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Ten-year-old Journey; Talk to the creator of the most influential independent game in history

It's been ten years since ThatGameCompany Studios released the standalone game Journey on PlayStation 3. As a sad and wordless adventure in a deserted environment, Jerni was a surprising and rare offer from the developers at the time; An independent game with clear artistic aspirations that quickly caught the attention of one of the giants of the entertainment industry, Sony.

In this game, the goals of the players were clear and simple; A mountain in the distance and a ray of bright light was coming out of it. Along the way, which was made of plant-like structures, you had to constantly charge the limited ability of the character to fly and walk on roads that God knows what you would expect at the end.

The story as players often expected They were not simple and explicit. A series of hieroglyphic catharsis depicted the destruction of a lost civilization that we did not know exactly what it meant. The main character of the game also had a hard time drawing a character and a human, and had pointed and angled legs, without hands, without a definite gender and without any details of the face - except for the eyes.

Even in the multiplayer or The same multiplayer game tried to be as quiet and quiet as possible and put players together without using traditional mechanisms and systems in multiplayer titles. The only mechanism available to you was a button with which you made a small sound of the character so that other players could notice your location, or draw their attention to something. that is all. So there was no talking, chatting, lobbying, or anything like that.

BingMag.com <b>Ten-year-old</b> <b>Journey;</b> <b>Talk</b> to the <b>creator</b> of the <b>most</b> <b>influential</b> <b>independent</b> <b>game</b> in history

Journey Mountain gave players a goal throughout the game

Journey's game was a great commercial success and was well-received by players and critics alike. The game even won the Best game of the Year award at events such as the game Developers Choice Awards and DICE Awards, as well as by some of the world's leading media outlets such as IGN and GameSpot.

Commemorating the game, as well as celebrating its tenth anniversary, Genoa Chen, founder and CEO of ThatGameCompany, gave an interview to Gamesindustry.biz and looked at its impact after a decade.

Cultivating Stories <"When we made the game, we never imagined we would get such a positive reaction," says Chen. "When the game hit the market in 2012, there was a huge flood of letters and emails in which players shared their stories, telling us what Jerni was worth to them."

While some stories Which were narrated were astonishing in themselves - for example, a player who, years ago, fell into a frozen lake as a child and lost his vital signs for two minutes. Chen became particularly interested in a story he had heard several times.

"They were better able to feel sadness when they experienced the game together." This helped them to let go and to know that their deceased loved ones were in a better place. "I never thought this game would have the power to heal and help the audience, but now I know it has changed the lives of many and that's my biggest surprise."

It had facilitated attention. "Showing strangers' irrelevant and weird PSN players can immediately kill the atmosphere and the sense of the game. However, just hiding this ID is not enough because we found that the PlayStation Network can display the names of friends and other players. We had to work with Sony to find a way to hide all of these names and symbols. "

" We also removed gender and age to match the game's character design. We also removed the players' arms so that they could not hit or push each other for fun or rudeness. "We left personal assets out of the game so that players would not feel distant and would not have to compete for different resources and items." He did not understand deeply, but now he knows how much the space and context that developers give players can affect players' behavior.

"Many people do not have happy memories of online players - especially through WeChat - because they are aggressive. And they are rude. And I think it should be clear by now that it is not the people who are rude or aggressive, but the environment and the circumstances of these behaviors. The same people who want to chew each other's throats in Call of Duty may be experiencing Journey a few minutes later. To be. And the same people, those console teens, would come to our game forums and post: Shame I could not be with you until the end of the game, my mother had something important to do with me and I had to go. "But I hope you see this post and know it was a wonderful experience." "These people who respected and apologized to other strangers are the players of the other title."

"Ultimately, we humans have the ability to show compassion, but only if the conditions are right. When you put people on a battlefield and take up arms, the first thing that comes to mind is "How do I protect myself from being killed?" Or "Can I use this weapon to kill someone else?" Now imagine giving that person a first aid kit instead of a gun. "It can change his behavior and thinking." "Basically, this sense of wonder and fear makes them feel small and vulnerable. And I believe that makes people feel more open and better able to relate to each other. Because when you realize how fragile and vulnerable your lives are, you can easily understand how fragile and vulnerable their lives are. As a result, you are more likely to think of ways to help them or how you can be stronger together. "

" But most video games focus on simulating competition, and it's a power fantasy for teenage boys They do not have much freedom in life. When you give them too much power, they think, "Who has more power?" I'm Superman, you's Batman, which one is stronger here? But if we are both asylum seekers of war, we do not think about fighting and finding out who is stronger. We will probably think about how to survive. "

BingMag.com <b>Ten-year-old</b> <b>Journey;</b> <b>Talk</b> to the <b>creator</b> of the <b>most</b> <b>influential</b> <b>independent</b> <b>game</b> in history

Restricting the multiplayer section to Two players are derived from the same approach. In the early stages of production, Chen says the production team tried to expand the multiplayer section to three or four players, but it soon became clear that the players would be constantly divided into smaller groups, some wanting to go one way and some going the other. It could have been a frustrating experience for Jernie's emotional burden.

Chen says the studio's current game, Jernie's spiritual sequel (Sky: Children of Light), is an attempt to overcome the problems mentioned in He was high and he is satisfied with the results so far.

"Deep down I was always curious to see if we could solve this problem with larger populations. Can we break that emotional bond with more than two people? "If you could chat with more than two people, would you still be able to protect the player community and create an environment where people on that bright side show up instead of what we call a dark spot?"

Personal Impact

Journey's play - and the reaction it received - changed Chen's life completely.

"Personally, I felt very lucky. We always think of artists who are struggling. Artists are often lonely and look strange to others. They usually see different things in life and are in the minority. Life is lonely. "

" But art can connect the artist and the audience. To know that what you have dedicated your life to - what you care about, what you dream about, what you think about every day - reaches the whole person and they hear and enjoy your voice, I feel loved. I feel I'm not alone. This is an amazing experience. "It's also a feeling of gratitude that motivates me to play again." The team is constructive and Chen.

"What happens in the life and mind of the artist affects the game. It was very difficult to build the Journey. And the struggle that we had during its development is also reflected in the final stage of the game. "This game is a mirror of the people who were behind it." By the time the game was released, the studio had raised about $ 200,000 in debt.

"We could no longer pay anyone. We had a party. We went to the mountains, celebrated, and then dissolved the company. "So everyone had to look for a new job." most of the key talent left the studio. Chen points out a number of the same developers who They left the studio and returned to work with their old colleagues to make a second game.

BingMag.com <b>Ten-year-old</b> <b>Journey;</b> <b>Talk</b> to the <b>creator</b> of the <b>most</b> <b>influential</b> <b>independent</b> <b>game</b> in history

Many things happened in the studio and eventually many employees left it, this game also changed the identity of the studio. Journey, on the other hand, was the end of ThatGameCompany's partnership with Sony, which ended with three games. The first two games were Flow and Flower. Although the games were very well received, Chen says he believed that a platform owner like Sony was not their ideal partner to achieve their goals.

"What became clear to me was that studio games We were made for a wider range of players because of their emotional impact. And I felt that TGC's destiny is to make games for everyone, not just PlayStation console owners. So we decided to help the studio achieve this goal and our next game will be on platforms that everyone has access to, and there is cross-platform discussion between PC, console and mobile. We started with mobile, because it was the most difficult platform to build a game. The rest of the story goes down in history. I think this is good for the industry because a lot of people decided to make their own narrative game that has a lot of emotional impact. I think the industry was devoid of such issues at the time. "We have a lot of great fighting, driving and sports games, but on the other hand, the emotional, subtle and artistic works were not given much attention."

It's natural for their artistic and entertainment tastes to change at the same time.

"Right after Journey, we've seen a whole lot of powerful emotional narrative work over the last decade, both in independent titles and big games (AAA). This is a very big change. And I think more people are now looking to use gameplay to drive their emotional narrative. There was a time when emotional storytelling was told only in catharsis and movie scenes, but today many games make you cry, even when you are right in the middle of the gameplay. "For me, this is a huge breakthrough in the industry." TGC announced a few weeks ago that it has raised $ 160 million. In the same statement, Chen was quoted as saying at the meeting: "Our mission is to present games as a legitimate and acceptable form of art; feature-length animations with 'Snow White' and 'Toy Story' have had defining moments, and "We are working to reach this moment in the video game industry." Gamesindustry.biz's reporter asks Chen, "Isn't the question of whether video games are an art not answered years ago?" Many things have changed over the past few decades, and those who have grown up with games are considered an important part of art.

They do not respect any form of art. The number of people accessing gaming content has increased tenfold since 2014, which I call a huge improvement, thanks to social media and the proliferation of mobile games. But most of the games that are now available on mobile or social platforms focus on their growth and development and not on art and respect. "While more art games are released annually, this refinement has influenced the public's view of the gaming industry."

And their answer, I judge whether this industry is a respected art medium or not. If games are a legitimate and acceptable form of art, then people's reaction to my work should not be too different from people's reaction to the work of writers, filmmakers or architects. In 2005, people would say to me, "You have made our children addicted and violent by making video games." Today, the mainstream media continues to view gaming as caring for children, reducing stress, or ultimately addictive. Many governments use terms such as "virtual betting" for games. Recently, when I told someone that I was making video games, he replied: "We have heard that game makers make good money, how much money do you make? How much overtime do you have?

Although there is still a long way to go before the media and the public understand and respect the games well enough, Chen continues to see the progress made over the past few years as well as his role. Journey is happy to have played in the meantime.

"After ten years, I'm really grateful for what happened. This is also strange because we are expanding the company and I interview different people and they say "I played Jerry when I was 13!" "I feel old at these times, but at the same time it is very gratifying to realize that your work has changed the views of many people."

Source: Gamesindustry.biz

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