I completed my journey in Journey! I have looked forward to this game for months and I’m (mostly) not disappointed. My view is that its a wonderful and unique experience. I believe it is also clearly a game (as opposed to not a game!) since there are many elements of gameplay embedded within it; for example interaction, exploration, challenge, outcome, and collections. There is also a mystery; a story with a puzzle to solve. Like Dear Esther you move a character towards and obvious goal and gain clues to your own existence as you progress. Unlike Dear Esther, I believe that Journey demonstrates that a story can be told effectively within interactive gameplay. Dear Esther simply told a story within the context of an interactive virtual world; it wasn’t a game but it did tell a story in a profound manner. Journey demonstrates clearly that games can be a medium for the expression of art and a part of that is a unique narrative; a narrative that can be expertly woven into the interactive game design. Journey is short, about £2/$2 per hour for one play through. Its too short considering how long its been in production, but its an important game. Its a game that can inspire other game designers, and it is nice to be able to complete a game in the same month that you started it!
I have been interested in Jenova Chen’s work since his work on Flow in games, as we had a research interest in this area for a while, and played with his Cloud game. As adaptive/emergent AI is a research interest of mine I was really interested in his game FlOw, which was released on PS3 shortly after launch. I played this game on a first date with @bionic_rez who now is my wife. Shortly after we got married we played Flower, and now a little later in our relationship Journey. It seems that Chen’s game release names are subtlety and strangely correlated to the state of our marriage – let’s hope the next release isn’t “battle” or worse!