“Games need to have more mature content”, says thatgamecompany’s Jenova Chen

Wednesday, 15th July 2009 16:34 GMT By Stephany Nunneley


While speaking at develop regarding thatgamecompany’s flOw and Flower, Jenova Chen told attendees that games need more mature content by way of emotional engagement, not necessarily violence. Otherwise titles become nothing more than “toys”.

“I never see that sense of thrill any more in today’s games,” he said. “Yes, today’s games are more real and satisfying but the underlining mechanics are no different from toys. But the human brain likes information – it’s like a sponge that sucks up information and wants more all the time.

“Other pursuits are enjoyed by adults and not viewed as toys. As grown up gamer I don’t want to see the games I have been playing with love turn into toys. I think games need to have more mature content – but not like [Dead of Alive] or [Manhunt], but more sophisticated works.

“Games should make the player think and touch the gamer’s emotion. Gameplay needs to be like any other medium – it has to evoke all kinds of responses. Otherwise our industry will flatline.

“It shouldn’t be about one feeling – like excitement or happiness. Humans have a range of emotions, and life is stressful. Games should reflect that.”

Chen said developers could accomplish this by incorporating contemporary themes and approaching games as one would approach the creation of art.

“Most people in the games industry are jaded with this argument about games being art,” he admitted. “But it is important. I’m not an artist, I’m a computer science guy, and as game designer I think art is a component that is necessary.

“Look at the greatest artists and their works [Van Gogh, Tolkien and Alan Moore], they reflect the time and the world around them at the time.”

More over on Develop.



  1. Hunam

    One hand I agree, on the other, Why would I want boring life to creep into my alien murdering time?

    #1 6 years ago
  2. Michael O'Connor

    The biggest problem lies with the name.

    Video GAMES.

    Games are associated with toys. Toys are associated with children, with mindless entertainment, and simple time-wasting.

    Chen has a strong point. Question is… what’s the solution?

    #2 6 years ago
  3. NiceFellow

    He’s got my agreement. Like Michael I feel that the very name of the medium needs to change, though, to better accommodate this.

    Personally, like literature, art and cinema I’d like to see a wide variety of genres and styles, from pure games (after all I wouldn’t want those to vanish, and just because I’m an older gamer doesn’t mean my children shouldn’t get great pure games as I did in my youth) to titles that are more mature and sophisticated and cover a broad spectrum of themes.

    Mind you, with mindless crap like Transformers 2 eating up the box office, rinse and repeat thrillers topping bestseller lists, and mature (in terms of childish violence) video games tending to dominate (apart from certain Nintendo titles) I’m not holding my breath.

    #3 6 years ago
  4. frostquake

    Well Rain may do this, Your Character is dead and will only re-appear in Left 4 Dead 5: Grandpa Zombies coming Winter 2009!

    #4 6 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.