Journey creator wants to make “memories that are treasured for whole lifetimes.”

Friday, 18th October 2013 08:20 GMT By Dave Owen

Jenova Chen, co-founder of thatgamecompany and creator of Journey has spoken at the Gaming Insiders Conference in San Francisco about how he tries to encourage emotional investment in his games, and how he has spent his career discovering new ways for gamers to “feel something new.”

“We are not just making games,” he said. “We are making memories that are treasured for whole lifetimes.”

The difficulty, he said, was that games have generally only ever limited themselves to a strict set of emotions. “With action games, the emotion is about empowerment,” he said. “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.”

This has led thatgamecompany to spend much of their development time on “research and development,” seeking new ways for people to enjoy games without setting them fulfilling challenges or asking them to dominate rivals. The results have been the peaceful, awe-inspiring Flower, Flow, and Journey.

“It’s not about asking people what they want,” he said. “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.”

Thanks, Polygon.



  1. mistermogul

    I definitely treasure this game. One of my favourite of this generation for sure.

    Only yesterday managed to get the last of the trophies. Yay!

    Can’t wait to see what the devs have in store for us next…

    #1 1 year ago
  2. spiken

    We did a really intimate interview with Thatgamecompany in their office this summer. About stepping away from video game violence, creating feelings and more.

    #2 1 year ago
  3. YoungZer0

    “We are not just making games,” he said. “We are making memories that are treasured for whole lifetimes.”

    Oh fuck you.

    #3 1 year ago
  4. ctankep

    Wondering how that might be possible through a passive medium –
    Especially when th’ output from th’ game is identical for many players. You are dealing w/ shared culture or experience: from films ., storytelling ., their tropes & precedents. This is different to how we generate personal experience that is unique [ highly situational ] teaches us something about our world. Which might be later encoded later into a narrative to communicate that knowledge as social animals.

    But that might be a bit o’ a simplistic view. Memories concur with emotion an’ they also happen during peak moments or extremes o’ human experience. We have those memories because they serve as sign posts or markers for when we’ve surpassed or deviated from an idealised personal narrative [ life story ., goals ., meaning o' life ]. How sitting in front o’ th’ television being passively narrated to equates to a peak experience is beyond me.

    #4 1 year ago
  5. polygem

    I loved journey. Not so much because of its gameplay but because it really transported a mood and an emotion. The game moved me in a strange way. To me this was one of the most creative unique, powerful and important games i have ever played. I doubt that a game can ever really create emotions that stick with you for a lifetime though. You still need real world interactions for that.

    #5 1 year ago

Comments are now closed on this article.