Journey Creator: Games Aren't Good Enough for Adults

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Journey Creator: Games Aren't Good Enough for Adults

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Adults need relevant intellectual stimulation.

Thatgamecompany's Jenova Chen works on games that are thoughtful and elegant like Journey and 2009's Flower. These are games that many point to as examples that games can be genuinely artistic, even if they won't ever sell as well as Call of Duty. Not that Chen wants to make Call of Duty anyway.

"[Games] are not good enough for adults," Chen said in a Gamasutra interview. For him, it comes down to a matter of real-world relevance. "For adults to enjoy something, they need to have intellectual stimulation, something that's related to real life. Playing poker teaches you how to deceive people, and that's relevant to real life. A headshot with a sniper rifle is not relevant to real life."

This is not the first time that Chen has made these kinds of statements, either. They echo his words from January of last year, down to the poker comparison and all. "[What's] the point in pulling off another infinite combo?" he had asked PlayStation Blog. "What does that do for your life? It's not useful."

Chen told Gamasutra that games for adults had to be relevant intellectually. "Can games make you and another human experience an emotion that's deep enough to touch adults?" That was his aim with the ephemeral connections forged in Journey's multiplayer, he said, and that was what he hoped to continue to do, by making "emotional games ... where people can connect and come together."

The full feature interview with Chen is over on Gamasutra, and it's well worth a read - especially if you're like me, and keep picturing him as the villain from Final Fantasy VII.

Source: Gamasutra

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Making someone cry because the game made them kill someone who the game made them fall in love with because the story is a dick isn't relevant to real life either. Sure you made me invested emotionally in the story and the characters, but it doesn't teach me anything. I don't appreciate people more, I don't feel bad for people in real life, and killing people close to me hopefully won't be relevant to life either. I like his conclusion, but I think his reasoning isn't sound.

I can agree with this. Although I wouldn't go to such extremes, for instance, I love fighting games. They're fun, challenging, competitive and something I can enjoy with a friend. I also like games where I can just fuck about for no reason like Prototype or Saint's Row.

I love thatgamecompany's games, but I wouldn't dismiss other games or entire genres as "not good enough" just because they aren't blowing my mind with deep, meaningful messages or intellectual content.

As an adult I have to say that games are good enough for me.

Granted I like intellectual stimulation from my games on occasion, but it's not like I want every game to be like that. And it's not like certain games we have now are lacking in intellectual stimulation, it seems to me whenever these indie game developers talk about the mainstream AAA games, they're only referring to CoD, as if that's the only AAA game in existence.

There are other games out there besides CoD, and there are other mainstream titles that do deliver intellectual stories. Yes the indie games are great, (Well, the good ones anyway. The ones that can actually function as a game as well as a piece of artistic expression, and not just come off as barely playable pretentious twottle) but it doesn't mean that the whole of mainstream triple A games is a pile of gun/boobs/explosion porn meant solely for neanderthals.

"For adults to enjoy something, they need to have intellectual stimulation, something that's related to real life. Playing poker teaches you how to deceive people, and that's relevant to real life. A headshot with a sniper rifle is not relevant to real life."

I may be taking this way out of context, but that's just wrong.

Real life applications doesn't inherently make something more intellectually stimulating.

As an adult, I have to agree with Jenova Chen completely.
Yes, Angry Birds is fun to swype at on my smartphone while waiting for the train. Yeah, Battlefield 1942 kept me shooting at people with bolt action rifles past 2am countless nights.

But as we invest more of ourselves (as a society) into gaming, instead of more traditional means of entertainment and socializing -- games need to grow up.

As some random guy from the Internetz that was slightly interested in Journey I have to interject that maybe he should start developing PC versions of his game, otherwise they will have to remain "emotionally unavailable" to me since I don't own or want any ToyBoxes right now.

Having enjoyed Journey quite a bit, I'm kind of disappointed to learn its creator is a pretentious cunt.

Man's allowed to talk whatever smack he wants, alongside Austin Wintory, for what they made me feel in Journey. Saints Row the Third and [Prototype 2] might have held some fascination, but as much fun as those titles were, they mean very little to me--especially when held alongside Journey, which holds more emotional and intellectual weight in it's handful of hours than the collective years spent in other games.

But...Just because those games aren't as intellectually stimulating, doesn't mean they aren't fun. Because that's still something I want out of most games. Journey was amazing, but "fun" wouldn't be one of the first adjectives to come to mind. This is by far not a bad thing, because to experience Journey is something altogether different, but it's not the mainstream gaming kind of entertainment.

RatRace123:
As an adult I have to say that games are good enough for me.

Granted I like intellectual stimulation from my games on occasion, but it's not like I want every game to be like that. And it's not like certain games we have now are lacking in intellectual stimulation, it seems to me whenever these indie game developers talk about the mainstream AAA games, they're only referring to CoD, as if that's the only AAA game in existence.

There are other games out there besides CoD, and there are other mainstream titles that do deliver intellectual stories. Yes the indie games are great, (Well, the good ones anyway. The ones that can actually function as a game as well as a piece of artistic expression, and not just come off as barely playable pretentious twottle) but it doesn't mean that the whole of mainstream triple A games is a pile of gun/boobs/explosion porn meant solely for neanderthals.

So much this.

Just look at great AAA games that do have a message or a great story and characters, like red dead redemption the mass effect games, dragon age origins, bioshock.

And I do think stuff like COD has its place for adults sometimes it just fun to shoot stuff I personally love myself a bit of zombies but doesn't stop me enjoying more meaningful stuff. Although I will give him credit having read the whole interview he doesn't come off like a massive pretentious prick like most indie devs who say stuff like this.

I do so love it when developers and publishers keep telling consumers what they really want or how we need to enjoy something. Please do go on.

Journey Creator: Adults Aren't Good Enough for Games

Fix'd it for ya Chen!

Can we just have a rule that game developers shouldn't be able to open their mouths? It always goes wrong.

I feel like he is saying something half intelligent, but it is too embezzled in pretentious to take seriously. His games are great, yes, but he doesn't seem to understand shit about other genres.

See, here's the thing. We humans are a social bunch. We like bonding with other humans, and multiplayer games allow you to form bonds. Seems to me that would make games worth it to most of us.

Plus, sports and games are a way to express our competitiveness in a safe, consequence-free (or mostly consequence-free) environment.

Is he talking about the games in general or is he generalizing them according to what is popular (ie. CoD etc.)?You need to open your eyes
man.There are good stuff out there.Whether they are considered "mature" enough or not

Kind of a douchey comment, though I do feel the urge to play Journey again.

Personally i like shooting people in the head. It's an experience I'm unlikely to have in real life, and it's, y'know, fun.

SirBryghtside:
Can we just have a rule that game developers shouldn't be able to open their mouths? It always goes wrong.

So much this.

I could make a snide comment about game design being a career path that attracts geeks with no social skills, but that would be mean.

If he really has to try and paint himself as a gaming guru and lecture the rest of us poor proles on what is good enough for us, can't he at least do it in an unthreateningly squeaky voice? It works for Extra Credits.

Funcakes:
I feel like he is saying something half intelligent, but it is too embezzled in pretentious to take seriously. His games are great, yes, but he doesn't seem to understand shit about other genres.

Hear, hear!

The sheer pompousness is simply astounding. Guys like Jonathan Blow and Jenova Shen makes one hit artsy game and then they think they can dismiss everything that isn't enough high-culture to meet their standard.

Look, I appreciate that the debate is there, whether games can be more than entertainment etc. but it doesn't help in the slightest if the creators and supposed pioneers of artsy games have their noses lodged in the fucking sky.

SirBryghtside:
Can we just have a rule that game developers shouldn't be able to open their mouths? It always goes wrong.

...And so much this, as well. First the ridiculous business about Cliff Bleszinski and now Jenova Chen is vomiting pretentiousness all over the floor. They sure make good games but it seems that their thoughts is best projected in games or inside their own brilliant minds.

Like many posts already, I'm not sure I totally agree with this.

First, it seems to make the assumption that a game needs to have an artistic bent to be a quality experience that can be enjoyed by a mature mind. That's not the case at all and, in fact, it's often the juxtaposition of content that makes for memorable experiences on both sides of the coin. Would, for example, Saints Row be as entertaining as it is if it didn't have the counterpoint of experiences like Grand Theft Auto 4 or Red Dead Redemption? And is it somehow impossible to enjoy Saints Row just because you are mature? I don't know about you, but I'd guess that the success of a slam bang comic book movie The Avengers isn't just due to children watching it. I'm sure there's quite a number of "mature" butts in those theatre seats too.

Second, it seems to ignore the bigger problem that games face amongst "mature" audiences; that being the belief that videogames are still toys. Far too many people who consider themselves mature still see games as something ranging from Pac-Man to Super Mario Bros with maybe a little Doom on the side. People who actually play games, however, know that isn't the reality of the industry. Games are made to entertain and illuminate those with all sorts of mindsets and interests these days, just as all other forms of entertainment media, and by sneering and saying that games just aren't mature enough all you're doing is confirming those incorrect outside biases.

I disagree. I'm an adult and many games are good enough for me, even if they don't intellectually stimulate me.

Eeek.

I want to agree with him, God knows gaming needs to grow the fuck up, but yeah... no.

First off, I loved Journey, but by his reasoning it was worthless. Guiding my lanky little jawa across the desert with a stranger didn't do anything "for my life". Don't get me wrong, it was a great experience, but it was no more relevant than headshots in CoD.

Also, I wouldn't place intellectually engaging material above emotionally engaging material. Although he seems to regard them as the same thing which is... odd.

Lastly, adults are perfectly capable of indulging in some good ol' dumb fun every now and again. Yes, it's a shame that that is just about all gaming is capable of delivering, but there's nothing inherently wrong with it.

I'm sorry but this guy seem's to have this preconcieved idea of what an "adult" is, which is going to be called out like some posters already have. You can't lump everyone together who meets some arbitrary age to be considered an adult, and then say they all need to be intellectually stimulated in order for them to enjoy their time with a certain entertainment medium.

For example my father is one of the smartest people I know but he regularly watches and enjoys shows like spongebob.

So what happened to games just being pure escapism?, a head shot with a sniper rifle may not be relevent to everyday life but its bloody fun.

What's actually written on the home page:

"Journey Creator: Games Aren't Good for Adults"

Talk about an important missing word!

It was a fantastic game and I enjoyed the time I spent on it very much. I didn't learn much if anything at all, but it was awesome to just relax to.

I loved Journey, but I don't necessarily agree with with the creator on this subject.

Sure, I do like playing games that give me some intellectual stimulation, but I don't think every game has to be like that. Sometimes I just want to play something like Halo, Team Fortress 2, Mario, Kirby ect.

These games aren't particularly deep in the intellectual department, but they do excel in other areas of what makes good games.

A headshot with a sniper rifle is a highly sought after and admirable skill. Making them on computers, however, isn't.

senobit:
So what happened to games just being pure escapism?

Means you have a problem and games won't make it better.

Emotional engagement != intellectual stimulation.

The guy is full of shit.

I play bass guitar. It is of no use in the rest of my life other than entertaining myself. That doesnt mean music is not good enough to for adult entertainment.

I'll go for one of the worst examples possible. COD...

COD4 was a regular shooter, set in the middle east. I went in all guns blazing with tanks and helicopters, we started to pull out when things turned bad. We evac but I went back in to rescue a downed comrade. We make it and get back to the chopper, Ive saved the day. Typical hero shit.

HOLY SHIT

A nuke goes off, Mushroom cloud floors my chopper and every aircraft in the city. I come too weak, and crawl out of the remains, living long enough to take in the destruction. The city is ruined, buildings crumble and fall, bodies are everywhere.

This is no longer a fun romp shooting the natives. That is powerful. A bit more than a "headshot with a sniper rifle".

Altogether now...

uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuurrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgggggggggggghhhhhh *facepalm

Credit where credit is due, Journey was awesome. But someone really needs to go around the indie developer crowd with a pin and start deflating some heads. Arguably, people like this, who think that games have to follow their specific example before they can have any kind of emotional and intellectual merit are holding back the potential of what games can be more than the suits at EA and Activision ever will.

There's a mix of good and bad here, and I think everyone's already pointing them out. Making 'adultish' games is an awesome concept; I'd like more of those, but we need the 'stoopid' ones too. Also, I'm not sure his reasoning is all that sound....; good conclusion though.

Clearly, playing games is no good for anyone at any age, but that doesn't mean it's bad for you either.

And because your game can be considered artsy by some, doesn't make you a modern day prophet.

Daystar Clarion:

"For adults to enjoy something, they need to have intellectual stimulation, something that's related to real life. Playing poker teaches you how to deceive people, and that's relevant to real life. A headshot with a sniper rifle is not relevant to real life."

I may be taking this way out of context, but that's just wrong.

Real life applications doesn't inherently make something more intellectually stimulating.

This. I'm not sure on the actual context there, and I can't be bothered to read the interview it's from, but that particular quote is absurdly wrong.

Something can be intellectually stimulating, extremely emotional and thoroughly engaging without ever being relevant to real life. Case in point: The Lord of the Rings, or any of a number of other fantasy books.

As long as you challenge people's preconceptions, or engage them in the narrative, that's all you need.

From the rest of this article, the core sentiment he appears to be espousing (specifically, that games need to be more intellectually stimulating) is not a bad or unwelcome one IMO. It's just blind to the fact that many games have already reached a level of audience engagement and stimulation on par with (and in some cases possibly even superior to) that of books and movies. More is never a bad thing, but there's nothing inherently in games that prevents it from being done.

If i wanted to learn something useful in life i would go outside, i love doing combos.

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