Journey: That Game Company

Curator: Jenny Lam
date: June 25, 2013
Categories: Entertainment Design, Experience Design, Motion Graphics
Tags: game design, ux, video games
Journey game screenshot (Sony PlayStation)

Journey, a beautiful multiplayer video game made by That Game Company for the PlayStation 3, pushes the boundaries on how games can elicit an emotional experience beyond the typical smack talk, machine guns, body armor and orcs.

I first found out about Journey while attending Jenova Chen’s talk at this year’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. 

In a packed room of more than one thousand attendees, he told us why he created Journey. We all sat in silence, riveted by his soft-spoken delivery and personal story.

Chen started playing World of Warcraft as a social outlet from his schoolwork. He was connected with other players online but didn’t feel any kind of true interaction. The player interactions made him feel even lonelier. So he imagined an online world where there was no status, no age, no gender, no gamer ID and no language to distract from the interaction game play.

That Game Company, the creators of Journey, took three years to develop a game about a robed person (you), who awakens alone in a vast desert and glides down dunes, climbs and flies through many different terrains to reach a high mountaintop.

Along the way, you may encounter another robed people—a real, anonymous person online. This person may choose to travel with you as you give each other feedback without harm or language. There is a universality and pureness to this one-on-one interaction that enhances the discovery and adventure of the game.

The music, movements and visuals all feed into the zen-like environment. It’s so sparse, so expansive; it gives the player room to think about their own personal journey. It’s a game that is full of subtle details in the physics of flying and the lighting of the landscape. It’s a game that makes you feel like you’re on an adventure or even in a dream. The game creators want you to learn who you are and what your purpose is in this world. An unusually tall order for a video game.

Journey launch trailer

Journey game screenshot (Sony PlayStation)

Journey game screenshot (Sony PlayStation)

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