Speaking at the recent Gaming Insiders Conference in San Francisco, thatgamecompany co-founder Jenova Chen, who worked on the remarkable adventure game Journey, talked about how emotions drive the framework for games, stating that, “We are not just making games. We are making memories that are treasured for whole lifetimes.”
On the emotions part, Chen believes that some games have limited themselves to a fixed set of emotions. “With action games, the emotion is about empowerment. That is important to teenage boys, who want to feel like they are free. It’s a very small section of the palette of human emotion. It’s raw and primal.”
Thus the studio set out to find new, peaceful ways for people to have fun. “It’s not about asking people what they want. You need to find out what they need. That’s my approach to designing games. Flower was about nature and rejuvenation. I look at games and they are too stressful. People say they want bigger games, but what they [need] is some form of peace and harmony.
“We like to make games that make you feel different from other games, to find new emotions that have not been possible in the past.”
Considering the accolades that Journey has received, this path has paid extraordinary dividends. Will other games follow suit? We’ll have to wait and watch.