Jenova Chen is adept at keeping interactions simple. People engaging in harmful behaviors on the internet are a very old problem as the web approaches. They may give an anonymous person an audience, and chances are they will have less inhibitions. Especially on how they themselves are perceived, because it isn''t really them.
It isn''t just an online phenomenon, however. Which is to say this type of thing does not happen in online spaces. Chens work with Thatgamecompany ultimately led him to draw parallels between behaviors observed inside of 2012''s Journey and real world behavioral experiments.
Chen says he is familiar with the Stanford prison experiment. If you give people police uniforms and shades, where your emotions are kind of anonymous, it gives you tremendous authority to change the prison life in that situation, where one side of the players is empowered and the other side is dis-empowered, abuse would happen systematically.
Chen observes that on seeing another player, a player''s first instinct in archetypal games is to figure out how to kill them. That in-built aggression, to Chen, is the social norm. Multiplayer games are competitive.
With Journey, Thatgamecompany swam in the opposite direction.
Journey presents a large world that helps make the player feel modest in every sense. The scale and scope are the first steps, but perhaps the least significant.
We must use interactivity to make the player feel that they cannot really change the environment like gods. By making the player feel small, they are emotionally more open, because they are vulnerable. And they can be relate to another vulnerable person just by knowing how clueless and powerful the other player is, just by their own experience.
Chens social engineering philosophy has been reimagined even further in the follow-up. Sky: Children of the Light does not have a name, but they also do not begin with the ability to talk. In an online space, a player''s name and voice are where their total power comes from.
So Chen removed that right out of the gate. a player must earn enough trust in order to know who you are. So, you must also be able to tell them what you want to do.
What is the goal of someone to break a relationship just to be a jerk once they have done all of it? Sky is encumbing players, making them work for things that are given in other games, and fosters a positive community almost by default.
According to Chen, you need to first build up your trust in order to forge a real meaningful communication between two people.