Jenova Chen of thatgamecompany (flOw, Flower) is our guest this week, and his journey from Shanghai child to superstar developer was a perfect storm of determination, skill, and a whole lot of luck. You'll hear that story and many more in our jam-packed interview. And yes, he explains his Final Fantastic first name. With Chi Kong Lui, Brad Gallaway, Mike Bracken, and Tim Spaeth.

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Tim Spaeth

Tim Spaeth

Cleveland native Tim Spaeth grew up in a happy household – a household with a father whose major client happened to be an Atari games distributor. This led directly to Tim's first nickname: "The kid who got Atari games before anyone else." Indeed, he knew Pac-Man and E.T. were colossal bombs weeks before the rest of the world, and the resulting celebrity brought him great pleasure.

Through the years every aspect of Tim's life has been touched by gaming. He mastered typing thanks to Space Quest, honed his poker skills on The Sierra Network, and learned to hate after a particularly traumatic game of Tecmo Super Bowl.

Today, Tim lives in Chicago with his three kids and strives to find that perfect balance between family, career, and Warcraft. He enjoys broadcasting, martial arts, rock and roll, growing and shaving his beard, singing show tunes to the homeless, and losing at Mario Kart to his lovely, talented, and amazing girlfriend.

In late 2008, Tim became the producer and host of the GameCritics.com Podcast, and he's thrilled to be bringing GameCritics' unique editorial voice to a brand new medium.
Tim Spaeth

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7 Comments on "GameCritics.com Podcast Episode 21: Jenova Chen of thatgamecompany"

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Dale Weir
Guest
I just wanted to say that we are not oblivious to the fact that we run a website that chooses to inform readers of how accessible a game is to gamers with certain disabilities. That’s what made the lack of a transcript option for the deaf & hard of hearing such a glaring omission. And I want to state that we did hear the requests from those seeking such an option. After continued internal discussions on how to implement something like that, Tera Kirk has volunteered to take on transcribing duties for the near future. I say the “near future”… Read more »
Dale Weir
Guest

Sorry for being late to the part here, but this was one of the better podcasts. Even with a slight language issue, Chen was really amazing with his thoughts and anecdotes. It was really a wonderful listen and I’m amazed he isn’t asked to go all over the country on media tours. He’s on the level of a Levine or Dyack in terms of knowing what he is all about and what he brings to the gaming universe. I second Tim’s comment, you have to get Jenova Chen back on some time in the future.

Tim Spaeth
Guest

If you’re interested in participating in our next show (recording Saturday 9/19) hop on over to this thread and leave your thoughts:

Episode 22 Prep Thread

Chi Kong Lui
Guest

[quote=Boy]Has the idea of posting a transcript alongside the podcasts been mentioned at all?[/quote] I think this was mentioned awhile back and I said if someone was willing to volunteer to transcribe the podcasts, we’d happily post it alongside each podcast.

Tim Spaeth
Guest

Boy: We’ve had several people ask and it’s a great idea. We’ve looked into transcription services and unfortunately they are all out of our price range. Of course, given we are doing this for free our price range is pretty much “zero” to “nearly zero.”

Coincidentally, we are currently rolling out a state-of-the-art digital dictation/transcription system at work; if I could trick my secretary into thinking the podcast was in fact a legal abstract, we’d be all set.

Boy
Guest

Has the idea of posting a transcript alongside the podcasts been mentioned at all?

Tim Spaeth
Guest
Behind the Scenes: I think the episode speaks for itself; there’s not much in the way of secret behind-the-scenes stuff to talk about. Chi exchanged a few e-mails with Jenova and asked him to be on the show. He cheerfully obliged. We find that most smaller and/or indie developers are eager to talk, and are also much less guarded with what they have to say. In fact after the show Jenova offered to come back on to do a deeper dive into his design philosophies. Great interviewee, really nice guy, and I’d love to have him back on. Deleted Content:… Read more »
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