Spatial Experientiality in Journey

In constructing an immersive experience for its players, Journey gives its in-game space a starring role. In the absence of text, voice acting, and general lack of traditional narrative exposition, players wishing to draw out the game’s story are to depend solely on the game’s spatial design. Journey starts with an unidentified protagonist in an unidentified land. A cut-scene brings a distant mountain into the players’ focus, marking the mountain as an end destination. Continue Reading


This essay builds on this particular area of development in video games and addresses the importance of abstraction in this medium by drawing on the work of Jesper Juul, Alexander Galloway, and others, and thus on the relevance of video games from a game theory perspective. A short qualitative analysis of two video games, Jeppe Carlsen’s 140 (2013) and Starbreeze Studio’s Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons (2013), is included to demonstrate how abstraction can be used in unique and interesting ways and can increase player agency, engagement, and authorship in ways that have not yet been fully tested. The former visually alludes to early video game aesthetics, but also amplifies updated mechanics that allow for more highly developed movement, transformation, and player outcomes specifically through sound. The latter, though more linear in terms of narrative and gameplay, utilizes a key feature of abstraction to heighten a player’s sense of loss and difficulty by disabling a portion of the player’s game control after a major narrative event unfolds. Continue Reading

Interpellation & Apocalypse

Communication, Coercion, and Identity in Journey

American game developer thatgamecompany is known for producing innovative games intended to provide players with moving, thought-provoking play experiences. In their most recent release, Journey, the player-character is a robed figure crossing a series of gorgeous landscapes toward a light emanating from a far mountain. Journey’s narrative simplicity, striking visuals, and innovative game-play have made it critical and commercial success, receiving many awards and becoming fastest-selling game ever in the Playstation Store (“Journey Breaks PSN Sales Records”). Continue Reading