Most Games Are 'Not Good Enough For Adults' Says Journey Creator

Jenova Chen thinks that video games don't access enough of the human emotional spectrum. Sure, they do revenge and aggression well but they struggle to handle love or other kinds of deep connection.

That's why all of the games spearheaded by Chen — Flow, Flower and, most recently, Journey — have all proceeded from a clear mandate of wanting to expand the emotional vocabulary of video games. He talks about that on an interview with Gamasutra:

"My biggest complaint for computer games so far is they are not good enough for adults. 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. Games have to be relevant intellectually. You also need depth. You have the adventure — the thrill of the adventure — but you want the goosebumps too."

Chen also connects the limited subject matter to how much bigger games tends to cost:

Right now, games are so expensive; they're 60 bucks. If they don't let you kill over a thousand people, the game is going to be dead within two hours. Then they have a problem justifying 60 dollar prices...

The developer also alludes to the fact that he and colleagues at ThatGameCompany are working on something new but need financing after the expiration of their three-game deal with Sony.

A Personal Journey: Jenova Chen's Goals for Games [Gamasutra]


    'Right now, games are so expensive; they’re 60 bucks.'

    Hey Jenova come to Australia, where the dollar is worth more and the games are $120 on average.

      I'm not sure who you think you're fooling but you don't need to resort to hyperbole. Games in the US are $60, factor in sales tax in nearly all states pushes it closer to $70. Our games have GST already included and hardly any games launch at $100 RRP these days, let alone this $120 figure you're throwing around. This is an 'average'? Really?

      The Aussie dollar has just dipped below the USD.

      I think we're paying more than we need to for games, but there are factors like import taxes, GST, smaller market, reduced economies of scale, geographic isolation, localised classification costs to consider. So please stop acting like a child.

      If you're paying $120 for your games on "average", then YOU are doing something seriously wrong.

      It's a VERY rare new title that can't be had for $70 to $80 by price-matching at JB, Big W, etc.

      And they're usually half that price within 6 months. Which requires a patience that many people don't seem to have...

    "he and colleagues at ThatGameCompany are working on something new but need financing after the expiration of their three-game deal with Sony"

    You wouldn't think they'd have any trouble with that with their track record. Hell, even if nobody else was interested I'm sure Sony would write them another cheque today if they asked for it.

    I don't agree with Jenova Chen in saying that gaming for adults has to relate to real life. To me, he's basically saying adults lack capacity for imagination. I can see the angle he's coming from, but like many adult gamers I play games to ESCAPE, and I don't need to be anchored to reality to do that.

      Not necessarily. The games we tend to remember the most are the ones which are meaningful and relevant; many of the themes used in them have some sense of realism. I don't think he's saying that adults lack imagination but rather the games adults play is lacking and developers need to be more imaginative with types of games they are creating which are aimed towards adults.

    "ThatGameCompany are working on something new but need financing after the expiration of their three-game deal with Sony"

    Surely with their track record raising funding on kickstarter would be a gimme?

    As far as I'm concerned, anything for children can be also be for adults. In fact if an adult decries something that would be considered quality and enjoyable based on it being aimed at children then I feel sorry for them.

    He's correct in some ways.

    Almost all "mature" titles are simply games for teenagers, but with blood, bad-language and sex. There are extremely few action games that cater for adult minds.

    I mean, look at the biggie: COD. It purports to convey a realistic sense of war, and it has all the explosions, the language and the geopolitics. But it's aimed directly at 14 year old boys, and their sensibilities. There's no consequence in the COD world. No inner struggle, no exploration of themes, nothing. It's point-and-shoot, backed by jingoism and testosterone-fulled thrills.

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