Grad School Thesis becomes PS3 Game

Written by Brett Thomas

November 29, 2006 | 19:39

Tags: #flow #ps3 #usc

Companies: #sony

Special thanks to forumite Buzzons for pointing us to this!

Graduate school is a daunting proposition for many people. Long hours of study, generally low pay, and little more than a footnote of credit at the bottom of someone else's research is rarely what one would consider a "good time." Every once in a while, though, something truly unexpected happens...much like Jenova Chen, the designer of flOw is finding out right now.

flOw is a simple concept - you start out as a small sea creature in shallow water, eating smaller creatures to grow. As you grow, you can eat bigger and bigger things and survive at deeper and deeper depths. The addictive little flash game was posted in March of this year on the USC website as part of his graduate thesis in the Interactive Media division. Within two weeks, it had over 100,000 hits - with no intentional promotion.

Chen ended up hooking a lot bigger fish than he ever expected, though. First there was a phone call, then a deal...and now he and a partner are managing a small games company with a big customer - Sony. The game is now going to be upgraded a little from its Flash roots, and be sold on the new PlayStation Network.

The game was inspired by Chen's concept of the Flow Theory - the point where a person becomes so engrossed in a single task that conscious thought is shirked and instinct takes over. The "flow" sits between the point where you become bored and where you become genuinely anxious. His game, he feels, is a symbol of that - a singular task that immerses you.

By the number of hits and the interest he's generating, it doesn't look like he's far off the mark.

What are your thoughts on this little masterpiece? Have you played it yet? Tell us your thoughts on the theory or the game in our forums.
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