Though I was not present for our class game session (I was on a very successful apartment hunt instead) I did play Journey on my own a while ago. I was introduced to the game through the PlayStation store, back when I owned a game system. I downloaded a free demo because of the unexpected description of the game in the online store, surprised by the fact that it was promoted and available for download on the otherwise commercially tinged platform. I played the first 10 minutes in front of a bewildered group of non-video-game playing friends, who were pleasantly surprised by the game’s enchanting opening. We briefly discussed the game afterwards, and what everyone agreed on most was how the unusual gameplay, with its frolicking figures, as aimless as they were without character title, hardly registered as lacking a valuable gameplay experience.
On the other hand, I wonder how unusual this game actually is. The game may have a diminished narrative, but things like scope, game physics and geometry, overall linearity, or certain features borrowed RPG gaming like the third-person perspective, cinematic identification, embodiment, or sensorial registers all remain intact. Perhaps Journey employs these effects “differently” and with a gentler touch, and organizes affect in a more unusual manner than commercial titles, but nothing is resoundingly disjunctive, broken or profligate. Actions follow other actions, although it is seldom clear how or when. Overall, I get the sense that the programmers of Journey want to push the accepted regimes of gameplay (in the strictly computer game sense), but only to direct attention to “play” and/or encounter with others online, without the baggage of conventional game aids like health meters, inventory, mini-maps etc.. Still, I do regret not being able to watch others play the game on room 326’s big screen.