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.