Journey: you can create successful games by thinking about feelings first, says producer

By Dave Cook
30 October 2013 08:28 GMT

Journey was a game that had ‘all the feels,’ which I think is what you kids like to say these days. It’s a sentiment shared by former producer and co-founder of Funomena Robin Hunicke, who believes that if you start with feelings first then move backwards to mechanics, you will create a successful game.

Speaking at GamesBeat 2013 – via – Hunicke discussed the importance of emotions and aesthetics in games. Cast your mind back to Journey’s hazy deserts and lavish vistas and it’s hard to disagree with that lesson.

Hunicke said, “Instead of thinking of your game from the mechanics first, think about the aesthetics first. Think of the feelings that you want to bring to the players. I believe if you start with the aesthetics and move backwards towards the mechanics through the dynamics, you can create successful games.”

Elsewhere, Hunicke championed Minecraft’s sense of discovery as a powerful emotional tool, and added, “Every bit of Minecraft is built to make you feel that feeling or share that feeling with others.” She also stressed that such emotive persuasion needn’t come from one place or a singular mechanic, but a hybrid of single-player, free-to-play and online features.

Hunicke stressed that a degree of autonomy is needed for feelings to bleed through in games, and this largely stems to allowing developers the space to speak their mind, allowing for a great melting pot of ideas, emotions and themes to bubble to the surface.

This is also true for the player, as Hunicke asked the room, “Love, passion, and thrills are really addictive. We can put these things into our games, but what matters is why. Is it worth it for the feeling that [players] get?”

Do you feel that emotional responses are important in games? What memorable emotions have you felt during titles? Let us know what you think below.

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