Reflecting on TGC’s 10th Birthday
Posted by Jenova on May 23rd, 2016
This past week brought us the 10th birthday of thatgamecompany. I can’t avoid but feel overwhelmed with mixed emotions. It’s a self contemplating week for many of us at TGC.
10 years ago, we were fresh out of game design school. With a handful of heartwarming letters from fans of our student games, we were young and naive enough to believe that we could start a game studio out of thin air and nudge the game industry towards a better future. We started TGC to push the envelope of what video games could be. Particularly, to create emotions and experiences that are deeper and broader beyond the status quo, something meaningful and valuable not just for the stereotypical hardcore gamers but also for their most loved ones that they want to share the gaming culture with.
Sometimes I feel I’m a video game evangelist. We love video games, we would like to share the things we love with the rest of the world. Video game as a medium is often regarded as the 9th Art Form by developers and critics. And yet, the majority of people I run into have never experienced the beauty of it. I’m sure I’m not the only one here when I say my family and closest friends outside the game industry perceive video gaming to be like Rock ’n’ Roll music when it first debuted. There’s just very little there accessible and relevant for them. I just wish they could understand us one day.
flOw, Flower and Journey are the love children of our youth and naivety. They were incredibly hard to raise, particularly Flower and Journey. It was hard inventing something when we couldn’t find any references within the history of video games. We felt extremely thankful that they left home and flew to new places people rarely associated with video games. They were in the exhibition of MoMA, among the permanent collections of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, on the award stages of BAFTA and the Grammys, used in church services and classrooms, and in the hands of wounded veterans and cancer patients who are no longer with us.
Development on them was hard and sometimes we found ourselves at a loss. And during those times, you were the ones who beckoned us to keep going when we hit a wall and progress felt out of reach. With each of your letters, we learned that the games we created became much more personal and meaningful than what we had put inside “the box”. Because of this, we have come to have an incredibly high level of respect for our players when making each decision during a game’s development, debating whether each element truly contributes meaning and value for our players. We are aware of your concerns and inquiries about our future even as we haven’t said much about this next project yet. This is the most ambitious project we’ve taken on to date. It is the culmination of everything we have built and learned over the past 10 years. I think we have the opportunity to make a game you can share with your loved ones. We are still tinkering with its design at the moment, and we really appreciate your patience. It is very different, I promise it will be a good surprise =)
To you we are indebted, for these reasons and so many more. As long as you ask us, we will create what it feels our cherished medium needs most. Thank you for encouraging us throughout these past 10 years. We can’t wait to see where we will go in the next 10 years and beyond.
May 23rd, 2016 at 12:11 pm
This so heartwarming. Though I’m an avid follower of TGC on twitter, I forgot you guys were around, since you’ve been rather quiet. But I really cannot wait for what comes next. Accessibility in game design, when taken seriously,can breathe new game phenomena. Both Flow and Journey did that for me. Goodluck and be safe with your next development adventure.
May 23rd, 2016 at 12:46 pm
Yes, yes, yes! I ask you to make more games. I can’t wait to see what ideas you’ll put into the next one. Keep following your ideas. You’ve made the gaming world richter place.
May 23rd, 2016 at 12:47 pm
Happy Birthday TGC!
I wish you many more years and many games ahead:)
May 23rd, 2016 at 1:07 pm
Your games are one-of-a-kind!
Can’t wait for the next one, i really felt in love with Journey.
May 23rd, 2016 at 3:00 pm
Thank you for pushing the boundaries of my favourite and most cherished medium. Flower and Journey are two of the most beautiful video games that I have ever played.
Flower in particular, reminds me of a rare but amazing time going to the park with late mother. She was a drug addict, times were hard and sadly, she passed away when I was just 10 years old. I still remember that happy time spent in the great outdoors with my mother fondly and Flower always reminds me of why I have such a close affinity to the British country side. Its not just a computer game to me, it’s a sweet reminder of how beautiful the world can be.
Happy birthday, That Game Company and may there be many, many more.
May 30th, 2016 at 1:57 pm
Journey is the game that opened my eyes and changed my mind about what “video” games can be. I hesitate to use the word video, since they aren’t limited to a life on video.
You are absolutely right about these games offering a great opportunity for emotional depth, dimension and growth, for opportunity, and for social connection. Of course the games you’re creating are incredibly difficult. You’re on the right track.
Congratulations on your 10th birthday,
June 1st, 2016 at 6:00 am
Congratulations on TGC’s 10th birthday! I truly hope that there will be many more years to come and I am very much looking forward to whatever new experiences TGC will bring to the table in the future.
The struggle outlined in the first paragraph of this blog post is one I encounter myself quite often. Even amid fellow game development students there are but few who express any desire to push the envelope, to advance games beyond ‘mere’ entertainment. Not that there’s anything wrong with entertainment, there’s just a little too much of it right now, to the point where it feels like a distraction. More often than not I hear “wouldn’t this be a cool mechanic?” instead of “wouldn’t this be a meaningful mechanic?”
Thank you, TGC, for doing your part in moving games forward. I hope to continue to do my part in the same effort!
June 5th, 2016 at 11:50 pm
You are among the few devs who inspire me to create meaningful experiences in the hope my family and friends will look at games a little differently. Keep on keeping on!
June 6th, 2016 at 12:58 am
Thank you for taking on the heavy load of guiding a strained civilization nearer to enlightenment, solidarity and what is surely the molecular edge of mainstream digital interactive artistic design. What we dub: video games.
Chills permeate my body when I peruse the reasonably rare updates of progress you offer regarding this next project. An apotheosis of a rich and diverse, yet focused erudition.
Being able to channel inner exploration via what is something surely evolving beyond the limitations of the definition of video game is a gift—an endowment of which society desperately needs.
There are few things I look forward to with as much fervor as I do ‘playing’ whatever it is that’s being created by Mr. Chen and the rest of the crew at tgc.
Oo oo Oo OO.
June 18th, 2016 at 4:15 am
I usually have a hard time finding games I want to play. I am a middle age Afrian-American woman. I do not enjoy the violence and zombie themes. Or the feel of the games I have come across. For example, Big Little planet is beautiful and I love the narrator (Steven Fry), but it has a 2D feel that I do not like unless it is Galaga. Flower and Journey are beautiful, enjoyable to play and no “undead” to be found in either of theme. I have not experienced Flow yet. Thanks for the great work.
July 5th, 2016 at 9:38 am
Playing Journey made me cry. Because it was beautiful and I was in awe. It was the first time I truly understood how personal a digital experience can be. Please keep pushing those boundaries and if you need a beta tester you have found one.
July 11th, 2016 at 10:38 pm
Because it was beautiful and I was in awe. It was the first time I truly understood how personal a digital experience can be. Please keep pushing those boundaries and if you need a beta tester you have found one.
July 23rd, 2016 at 4:07 pm
Wow, amazing! Time flies. I remember when I first laid my eyes on flower mid 2009 when a buddy of mine let me borrow his ps3 to play mgs v sons of the patriots. And I told myself what is this? Never really gave it to much attention….
As I grew up playing video games I’ve always loved rpg games. I miss the feeling how games can blend peaceful music as your reading getting to know world the characters are living in. Now everything is just falling apart. Sure there’s great games, but nothing like back in the day.
That feeling was lost and Im just confused on what kind of video games to love again. Grandia 2, brave fenser musashi, chrono trigger, final fantasy 8, I feel today that I have to play videogames, because everyone is playing. Everyone has forgotten what a game truly is. Its about emotion and connecting with the game and that’s what every single one of you do at TGC.
When I finally said to myself I wanna play something different something new, I tried flower. And I will say and not ashamed I was lost…because it was amazing and an escape of reality. I watched your videos downloaded the theme you get the idea..I was a fan. You brought that feeling back with flower. The feeling of being a kid running in the field with a kite lauging, smiling. It was a kid again.
Journey, what can I say. I probaly played it over 10 times and still couldn’t get over, I was born for this. Just plain Beautiful. Your games is all I have downloaded on my ps4 and from time to time I play them for its music and feeling. Including flow of course haha. But there’s no dought in my mind that your new game is going to as extraordinary then the last three and I can’t wait to experience another teary moment from it. I love you all and congrats on your 10 year anniversary.
July 26th, 2016 at 11:08 am
A bit late but honest congratulations on TGC’s 10th anniversary!
I am a big fun of Journey and Flower. I’ve been playing computer games almost my entire life. Started with Atari 800XL, then C64, Amiga…
What really strikes me is how similar most of the games are today. If you take broad action/adventure genre into account it is so sad that violence/killing is the main theme of majority of those games. Surely they look better and better but… it is like watching same movie remakes all the time.
Your games are so different and that is a very good thing. Thank you and keep up great work!
August 3rd, 2016 at 5:36 am
I want to say thanks for the unique gaming experiences and I look forward to news of your next project. I’m a therapist who has loved video games since I was a little boy. I think your games have therapeutic potential, and one day I would like to incorporate them in my practice. Thanks again, and keep using that incredible Cello.
August 15th, 2016 at 6:36 am
I only look up the news of tgc from time to time, but it’s so hard to wait for a new game to come up. Journey was the most touching experience I ever had playing a game, but i hope everyone can manage not to have any expectations concerning the following games. You were free in mind and relaxed before, so don’t xhange that
October 14th, 2016 at 11:35 am
This is one cool game company, I have to say. Journey was the first only game that made me real emotional. Still sad that I completely forgot about it years ago only to find it again now while browsinf through things. Finding another nameless robed fellow that helps and waits whenever stuck throughout the entire game only to find our that theyre no sim
December 16th, 2016 at 1:03 pm
I wish all of you at TGC a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.
Hang in there, the new game will be ready when it really feels ready. I’m guessing most people that have played the previous games will patienty be waiting to enjoy a new experience.
I for one look forward to the day my baby girl of almost 1,5 years will be old enough to have a go at flower!
Thanks for being different!
March 13th, 2017 at 6:39 pm
TGC has managed like true artists to retain their artistic integrity and vision despite the mainstream status quo of what is expected from the industry. I share your philosophy of beautiful and spiritually enriching games that are an experience for the heart, mind and soul. As a concept artist who shares this vision of what the medium could bring to the table I admire and look to you as the beacon of ultimate artistic expression through gaming. I’d love to be a part of that vision in some way, shape or form.