“What I think is interesting about games . . . is the ability to describe worlds through systems.”
Everything is an open-ended, interactive experience that demonstrates the interconnectedness of the universe as well as the critical importance of one’s point of view. What we see depends on who we are, and who we are depends — in life, if not in games — purely on chance. Combining elements of role-playing games, sandbox games and simulations, Everything is designed to allow the player to do whatever he or she wants — but also to create moments of peace, beauty, sadness and joy.
David O’Reilly is an Irish filmmaker who lives and works in Los Angeles. Born in Kilkenny in 1985, he studied animation at the Institute of Art, Design + Technology outside Dublin and lived in London, Italy and Berlin before moving to LA. He worked as an animator on The Hitchhikers Guide to the Universe (2005) and created an animated video for U2’s 2009 single “I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight.” Later he worked as animation director on the 2013 Spike Jonze movie Her.
O’Reilly’s experience directing the video game sequences in Her led him to start developing actual video games. He has consistently confounded the expectations of gamers, however. His first game, Mountain, released in 2014, offers little in the way of interactivity but enables the player to create and watch a solitary mountain floating through space as it offers its thoughts to the player. Everything is his second game. The 11-minute gameplay film that was created for it won the special jury prize for animation at the Vienna Shorts Fest, making it the first video game trailer ever to be eligible for an Academy Award.
“‘Everything’ takes that sensibility and projects it into the heavens.
“You begin the game at a determined, procedurally generated point—a specific object in a specific place, at a specific time of day. . . . How you proceed, though, is entirely up to you. You can spend the entire game as that single object, settling in to your surroundings, listening to the thoughts of fellow creatures and objects, and considering the weight of your solitary life. Or you can write your own cosmic encyclopedia, jumping from object to object using the game's simple set of verbs: Press one button to look for objects larger than you; another for objects smaller. Ascend and descend by way of comparison, from galaxies to atoms to one-dimensional plasma beings.”