When Jenova Chen released Journey ten years ago, he wanted to prove to the world that video games are art. Now, everyone agrees.
So why, he asks, do they still not get the broader cultural respect they deserve?
“You go to a party, and someone says, ‘What do you do?’ If you say, ‘I write a screenplay for a movie’… They treat you as if you were the author of a book or a poet… You are a public servant. But what if I told them that I work on the game, in 2005, they said, “You know the Columbine shooting? The congressmen say you’re making children violent.” And since 2014 people have been like, ‘I heard you make a lot of money, don’t you?’ … That’s basically what people ask.
Journey’s official screenshot
“These days, we’re working on something different because, now [we’ve proven they’re] art, why do people still not respect the game? I have these games like Flower and Journey in MOMA and Smithsonian and in all these modern galleries. I think this will enhance the public’s respect for the game, because how is it that the game is an art form inferior to any art form? … If proving games can be art doesn’t raise respect or public view of games, what else can I do to change that? “
One reason Chen cites for gaming’s continued struggle to respect culture is the mobile market and its association, the rise of free-to-play games, and what he considers tactical. make money hunting. Although he himself has released many mobile games and recognizes that there are artistic mobile games out there, he says that the prominence of those particular business models has made significantly increase the number of people who play the game regularly, but also damage the overall social image of the game as art.
“As a console developer, I find it very difficult to understand, how do I want to react. On the one hand, we have ten times as many players now, but at the same time, where does the money go? The talent will where to go?” What are we focusing on? I was really happy in 2012 to see more and more AAA games starting to become artistic and emotionally powerful, but all of a sudden, you have tens of millions of new games being created as opposed to those old, with the ability to earn money for free and easy to play. The reputation of gaming today is shaped more by these mobile games than by what is on consoles and that is why people treat me as if I were running a casino.
“For me, that’s my saddest perception of change in a decade, is that no matter how much work we’ve done on the dashboard, it doesn’t matter because it’s diluted. by mobile and this new group of people and this new group of games.”
For now, Chen is unable to provide any further details on what exactly his new project is or how it will challenge these conventions. But he confirmed that this doesn’t mean his own mobile game, Sky, is going nowhere. He compares Thatgamecompany to pirates, always discovering and searching for new treasures. But now that they have Sky to maintain, their jobs are divided.
“One thing I joke about is that we finally found a special treasure [Sky]. Now, we can’t be pirates anymore because the treasure is deep in the mines. We had to dig it up, so we had to have this service run with hundreds of people, and that was a whole new phase of life. But deep down, I’m still a pirate.”
Rebekah Valentine is a news reporter for IGN. You can find her on Twitter @duckvalentine.
https://www.ign.com/articles/journey-creator-project-wider-cultural-respect-video-games Journey Creator’s next project aims to promote cultural respect for video games