There are many video games that delight gamers with breathtaking cutscenes. For fans, well-made film snippets are the perfect motivation to keep playing. Blizzard Entertainment has long been considered a producer of top quality cutscenes. Although many video games these days rely on strong cinematic sequences and some outstanding titles shine through coherent, dense background stories, it was rather unlikely that a video game could qualify for an Academy Award due to its visual-narrative qualities. This milestone in video game history has now been reached by a title that aims to be more than just a video game: Everything.
A video game with ambitions: Everything
Aside from the sales figures, there is a rather simple formula for success for developer studios: A good video game entertains players for many hours. An outstanding title also leaves a lasting impression. David OReilly's work, on the other hand, wants more, you could even say everything. Everything is no ordinary video game from the indie segment, but an interactive philosophical lesson in virtual space. The classroom is the world in itself - with all its facets. There is no self-contained story told in Everything. It is about fundamental themes: existence, life and death, poetry.
For Everything, David OReilly was inspired by the English religious philosopher Alan Watts. It is also he who gives the audio snippets a voice. Alan Watt's core philosophical themes are those of Zen, Buddhism and Taoism, but also of mysticism and thaumaturgy. In his view, “life is a wonderful playground”. And so it's hardly surprising that such existential fundamentals are reflected in the gameplay of Everything. As the game progresses, the possibility of influencing the world for the player increases steadily. The first discoveries are followed by nothing less than the creation of a universe according to the wishes and ideas of the player himself.
That sounds like an ambitious project and almost infinite playful freedom. In fact, the gameplay leaves the average video gamer at a loss. Ultimately, the interaction is less than one might initially assume. And the minimalist game plot also creates a strange feeling on the player's side. The question of whether Everything is still a video game or rather a philosophical work of art with virtual roots is justified. Despite the criticism on a playful level, the intellectual claim and the numerous food for thought on existential questions are particularly praiseworthy.
And the Oscar goes to ... everything?
Despite the apparent qualities of Everything, the video game didn't make it onto the Oscar nomination list entirely without a trick. The award for best animated film at the 14th Vienna Short Festival 2017 (VIS 2017) is responsible for the list entry. There the jury found the gameplay film and its musical entertainment to be worthy of prizes. It was only through this award that Everything by David OReilly landed on the so-called Oscar® longlist.
From this list of qualifications, a panel of judges then selects nominees for the Academy Awards. It will be many minutes before a video game actually wins an Oscar. Nevertheless, the success remains that a video game was able to qualify for an Oscar for the first time, albeit indirectly. The title song for Civilization 4 by Christopher Tin did something similar about six years ago: Baba Yetu by Christopher Tin won a Grammy Award in 2011 - not for the song itself, but as part of a new release of Tin's album "Calling All Dawns". Because the chance is now there, it remains exciting: Will Everything ultimately be nominated for an Oscar in the category "Best Short Film"?
David OReilly: Filmmaker, Influencer, Visionary
The reason for the award ceremony at the 14th Vienna Shorts Festival said:
“With didactic elements including a strong political message, the film encourages us to put our own ego aside and get a new perspective on the world. The award goes to 'Everything' by David OReilly.”
It is no coincidence that Irishman David OReilly of all people was able to get the award for his cinematic work.
OReilly is a seasoned Los Angeles filmmaker and artist. He knows what it takes to win over an audience (and a jury). It has already won several awards with its works. Its ten minute animated Short film Please say Something was honored with several awards in 2009, including the Golden Bear of the Berlin Film Festival 2009.
OReilly, who gave lectures at the renowned universities of Harvard and Yale, is not a real surprise winner, but an artist who was able to shine with a creative idea and a successful staging.
To get a Peter Molyneux an Oscar qualification for his (at least thematically similar) games about the power of God and the creation of the world would be hardly conceivable even nowadays. And so, in the end, it is less the video game Everything that is Oscar-worthy than the presentation of the 11-minute gameplay trailer including excellent background music. Anyone interested can watch the real gameplay of Everything in the following video. The title is available for Playstation 4* as well as PC and MAC and costs around 15 euros.