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Video: Designing a new emotional experience in Journey
May 3, 2013 | By GDC Vault Staff

May 3, 2013 | By GDC Vault Staff
More: Console/PC, Indie, Programming, Art, Audio, Design, Production, Video

Thatgamecompany co-founder Jenova Chen set out to create not only a new video game experience but a new emotional experience, with the multiple award-winning PlayStation hit Journey, he shared at GDC 2013.

Courtesy of the GDC Vault, this free 60-minute lecture explored Chen's desire to make an online multiplayer different from his experiences with World of Warcraft. He wanted Journey to be genderless and ageless, with gameplay that was neither about achievements nor empowerment.

Prototyping for the emotional Journey actually began around its music. Chen said that he always does so because "music is the most effective and powerful medium that can create emotion."

Session Name: Designing Journey

Speaker(s): Jenova Chen

Company Name(s): thatgamecompany

Track / Format: Design

Overview: It took thatgamecompany three years to develop a two-hour long video game. Many high-level experimental ideas were tested and failed, and many lessons were learned during the design and production of the game. 12 months have passed since the game was launched, and we would like to share what we learned with you. This talk will give you the insight into the process thatgamecompany took to come up the original concept for Journey, how we polished and executed the design to realize an emotional arc, and most importantly, the difficult lessons we learned throughout the process.

About the GDC Vault

In addition to this presentation, the GDC Vault offers numerous other free videos, audio recordings, and slides from many of the recent GDC events, and the service offers even more members-only content for GDC Vault subscribers. Those who purchased All Access passes to events like GDC, GDC Europe, and GDC China already have full access to GDC Vault, and interested parties can apply for the individual subscriptions via a GDC Vault inquiry form.

Group subscriptions are also available: game-related schools and development studios who sign up for GDC Vault Studio Subscriptions can receive access for their entire office or company. More information on this option is available via an online demonstration, and interested parties can find out more here. In addition, current subscribers with access issues can contact GDC Vault admins.

Be sure to keep an eye on GDC Vault for even more new content, as GDC organizers will also archive videos, audio, and slides from other events like GDC China and GDC 2013. To stay abreast of all the latest updates to GDC Vault, be sure to check out the news feed on the official GDC website, or subscribe to updates via Twitter, Facebook, or RSS.

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Juan Belon Perez
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I'm making games for the same reason.
Thank you for everything you have taught me today, Jenova Chen.
And yes, I have Journey and it is still one of my favorite videogames :)

Ryan Watterson
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Watched this talk and really enjoyed it. I learned a lot.

Christian Johansson
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Amazing talk. Something to aspire to.

Andrew Bowers
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Indeed, a wonderful lecture.

Another part of the ThatGameCompany equation is Kellee Santiago - the brilliant co-founder and producer of Cloud, Flow, Flower, and Journey.

She's from my hometown (Richmond, VA) and recently gave a lecture on "Flow Theory" which is deeply connected to their studio's mantra of exploring under-represented and positive emotions in games..

Incredibly talented and intelligent people - Jenova and Kellee - and they're making great contributions to the history of gaming (Journey won a Grammy, Flow was purchased by the MOMA)...

This flow theme inspired my first published game, "Floris", which just launched on the AppStore. I won't link to it but it's only $1. Fans of Tetris and great music don't wanna miss.
(/shameless plug)

ian benicio
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Really good. It's kind what I'm trying to do, trying to create for a Design methodology and prove that is worthy, academically, in my Master degree in Game Design, focused on the Experience, at UFPE- Brazil. Hope you guys write more stuff about it (experience in games).