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A Personal Journey: Jenova Chen's Goals for Games
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A Personal Journey: Jenova Chen's Goals for Games

May 18, 2012 Article Start Previous Page 3 of 3

Exactly what Journey tells us about real life is difficult to say. Clearly, Chen wants us to connect. His Japanese garden is the ideal catalyst for prolonged online friendship. He also believes that we should feel more for our games; like its minimalistic landscape, Journey's vague thematic conceits spark our mental engagement.

But Chen is also ready to talk business. Frustrated by the artlessness of big games, Chen sees it as a problem with pricing: "Right now, games are so expensive; they're 60 bucks. If they don't let you kill over a thousand people, the game is going to be dead within two hours. Then they have a problem justifying 60 dollar prices... I think Journey is more artistic because of the rawness of the game."

Cautiously, I ask again whether Chen and the team at Thatgamecompany would ever take on a more expansive project, and again I'm met with rebuttal. "If we needed more people, we would bring in more people. A smaller team is easier to manage, easier to direct.

"I think you'll always find more artistic games in the indie circle, because with a smaller team working on a game, it's more likely to be personal, and when it's personal, it's very much the same human condition that the developer had when he was building the game. And if that echoes with your own life, it's more likely to touch you.

"It's easier to stay coherent when everyone shares a vision. If you have a larger team, it's very difficult to create an artistic experience; you can learn that from Hollywood. The Oscar winning film is usually not the one with the biggest budget."

Now, with their three-game deal at Sony complete, Thatgamecompany's next step is difficult to predict. Details are sketchy, says Chen. "We're working on getting a business deal set up, so we can get working on our next game."

But clearly, he still has plenty of work he wants to do. "Can games make you and another human learn something intellectual and relevant from each other? Can games make you and another human experience an emotion that's deep enough to touch adults? I'm working on all of that. Making emotional games and making them intellectually relevant; making games where people can connect and come together."

Article Start Previous Page 3 of 3

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