August 25, 2008 - Jenova Chen Recognized by Technology Review's Prestigious TR35 Listing of the World's Top Young Innovators for 2008 for his Outstanding Work in Videogame Development
December 31, 1969
TR35 to be Honored at Technology Review's EmTech08 Conference at MIT in September
LOS ANGELES AND BOSTON‚ August 25, 2008 - The University of Southern California today announced that Jenova Chen, USC alumni and co-founder of thatgamecompany, has been recognized by Technology Review magazine as one of the world's top innovators under the age of 35 for his revolutionary approach to videogaming.
Selected from more than 300 nominees by a panel of expert judges and the editorial staff of Technology Review, the TR35 is an elite group of accomplished young innovators who exemplify the spirit of innovation.
Chen started experimenting with emotions in video gaming while completing his MFA in interactive media at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. As a graduate student, Chen looked to psychologis theory of "flow," which identifies a state of focus that people find enjoyable and fulfilling. Chen uses the theory's principles to design games that offer just enough challenge--not so little that players become bored, not so much that they become anxious.
His first game "Cloud",a game that features no guns, no explosions and no enemies, focuses on a hospitalized child, with asthma, who daydreams about soaring in the sky, making shapes out of clouds and eventually using rain to clean the world. Chen designed the game to evoke the fantasy about clouds and flight, and their best wishes towards nature.
The success was immediate and staggering: More than 500,000 people downloaded "Cloud," and the game received various awards, exhibitions and academic references, including a USC game innovation grant. More importantly, it created a heated debate among thought leaders about whether video gaming is an emotionally engaging art form.
The success of "Cloud" validated Chen's vision that gaming can be an emotional journey for many different audiences and not just an aggressive experience for young males, a dramatic paradigm shift for gaming.
Chen, along with fellow USC MFA student Kellee Santiago, formed thatgamecompany, and secured a 3 game deal with Sony Computer Entertainment America. Their first commercial title "flOw" was release on the SONY PS3 Network, has been named the "Best Downloadable Game of 2008" and "Best Debut Game & Innovation Nominee" by the Game Developers Choice Awards 2008, and is the best selling game on the Playstation Network in both US and Japan. Their next title, "Flower", will be released later this year and has already received accolades such as GamePro's Best of E3 2008 by, Gamespy E3 Best Downloadable Game, and Gamespot E3 Awards for Best Graphics and Best Downloadable Game.
"The TR35 honors young innovators for accomplishments that are poised to have a dramatic impact on the world as we know it," said Jason Pontin, editor in chief and publisher of Technology Review magazine. "We celebrate their success and look forward to their continued advancement of technology in their respective fields."
"Jenova Chen exemplifies what it means to be an innovator. He pushes the boundaries of his industry, questioning assumptions about what gaming can be. Because of his breakthrough vision, the impact from his approach to gaming will be felt for generations to come," said Krisztina "Z" Holly, USC Vice Provost for Innovation and Executive Director of the USC Stevens Institute for Innovation.
Chen and the other TR35 winners for 2008 will be featured in the September issue of Technology Review magazine and honored at EmTech08 Conference to be held at MIT in Cambridge, Mass. September 23-25, 2008.
Chen and Santiago are also featured on the Fall 2008 issue of USC's Trojan Family Magazine, in the cover feature story, "Empowering Innovation", were recently featured in Forbes, and were named one of Variety Magazine's "10 Innovators to Watch" in May 2008.
Additional information about past and present TR35 winners and judges is available at www.technologyreview.com/tr35/. For more information about EmTech08 Conference please visit www.technologyreview.com/emtech/08/index.aspx.
thatgamecompany was founded in the Spring of 2006 by Jenova Chen and Kellee Santiago, two graduates of the University Southern California Interactive Media MFA program. The company is currently comprised of five like-minded game makers, and they have recently completed their first commercial title, "flOw," downloadable for the Playstation 3, through the Playstation Network. Although they are an external development studio, they are incubated inside of Sony Santa Monica's offices in Los Angeles, working alongside all of the seasoned professionals in production, art, and engineering located there.
About the USC Stevens Institute for Innovation
The USC Stevens Institute for Innovation (http://stevens.usc.edu) is a university-wide resource in the Office of the Provost at the University of Southern California designed to harness and advance the creative thinking and breakthrough research from USC for societal impact.Ã‚Â USC Stevens Institute identifies, nurtures, protects, and transfers to the market the most exciting innovations from USC, and in turn, provides a central connection for industry seeking cutting-edge innovations in which to invest.Ã‚Â Furthermore, USC Stevens Institute develops the innovator as well as innovations, through educational programs, community-building events, and showcase opportunities.
About the USC School of Cinematic Arts
Since 1929, the USC School of Cinematic Arts (cinema.usc.edu) has fueled and mirrored the growth of entertainment as an industry and an art form. The school offers comprehensive programs in directing, producing, writing, critical studies, animation and digital arts, production, and interactive media, all backed by a broad liberal arts education and taught by leading practitioners in each field. Its more than 10,000 alumni are among the world's most distinguished animators, scholars, teachers, writers, directors, producers, cinematographers, editors, sound experts and industry executives. Since 1973 not a year has passed without an alumnus or alumna being nominated for an Academy Award.
About Technology Review, Inc.
Technology Review, Inc., an independent media company owned by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is the authority on the future of technology, identifying emerging technologies and analyzing their impact for leaders. Technology Review's media properties include Technology Review magazine, the oldest technology magazine in the world (founded in 1899); the daily news website TechnologyReview.com; and events such as the annual EmTech Conference at MIT.
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