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Jenova Chen: Online Gamers Aren’t Naturally Jerks, “It’s the Game Designer That Made Them an Asshole”

April 3, 2012 Written by Alex Osborn

Co-founder of thatgamecompany Jenova Chen sought to redefine online gaming with his latest title Journey, and in many ways succeeded. Instead of fostering an abusive, guns blazing environment where gamers play and act like jerks, Chen created a much more amicable environment which encouraged gamers to work together peacefully.

In a recent interview with Eurogamer, Chen went so far as to say that the games themselves are to blame for people being “assholes” in the online space. He points out that the premise of a game – which is often times killing your opponent – is what is to blame when considering why online gaming environments are so unfriendly and hostile.

None of us was born to be an asshole. I believe that very often it’s not really the player that’s an asshole. It’s the game designer that made them an asshole. If you spend every day killing one another how are you going to be a nice guy? All console games are about killing each other, or killing one another together. Don’t you see? It’s our games that make us assholes.

It’s worth noting that Chen purposely removed the arms from the character in Journey so that players couldn’t hit or punch one another. Because the game doesn’t provide the ability for players to do so, gamers must either work alongside the other player or go off in a different direction and pursue the game on their own. In the end, this helps foster a much more emotionally engaging and rewarding experience that breaks the mold of what online gaming can be.

So what we try to do is spearhead emotional content. If the entire game industry is focusing on excitement and adrenaline rushes, well, then I will look at peace, or love. That way we can expand the perception of what games can be and can accomplish. That’s why I make games. That’s why I am on this journey.

If you haven’t already had a chance to check out Journey, we here at PlayStation LifeStyle can’t recommend it enough. For those of you that have played it, do you agree with Chen’s comments regarding online play? Are game designers really to blame for all those jerks screaming in their headsets? Let us know in the comments below.