thatgamecompany co-founder looks to the future
Jenova Chen and his studio thatgamecompany have now left Sony, as their three-game contract concluded with the release of Journey. This places the studio in a transition position, seeking a new publisher to work just following the recent departure of co-founder Kellee Santiago and producer Robin Hunicke.
Chen told GamesIndustry International, “The biggest challenge right now is that with Kellee absent, we have to pick up a lot of tasks outside game development. Where is the next budget coming from? We’re talking to various people, but even though we have various game ideas, if we don’t get the money, nothing’s going to happen.”
Chen said that the development of the Journey helped to illustrate how the team had gained a greater focus on a specific studio culture, saying, ”At the beginning of Journey I couldn’t care less about it; I just wanted to make good games. We pretty much hired the most talented people we could find. But then, during Journey, the problems really start to show. People start to think, ‘I’d really like to make [different types of] games, I don’t like thatgamecompany-style games, it’s too serious for me’.”
Chen spoke enthusiastically about watching a video featuring the comedian John Cleese talking about how to make people more creative. Chen said, ”His point is that creativity is not a talent, it’s a state of mind when you’re working. In order to be creative you need to be in an open environment. If you’re under deep pressure and you have to deliver to all these deadlines, you just can’t think very creatively.”
Chen outlined on how thatgamecompany works toward such an environment, saying, ”We don’t believe in scaling up in a vertical way, creating hierarchies, because everybody at thatgamecompany is very talented, and talented people don’t like to be managed. We find it’s good to have a relatively flat structure where everybody’s equally engaged.”
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