Yesterday’s DICE summit saw two of the biggest names in the entertainment industry come together as director J.J. Abrams and Valve co-founder Gabe Newell announced their plans to partner on future films and games.
Both Newell and Abrams took the stage to discuss the differences and similarities in storytelling across multiple platforms, including movies, TV, and video games. Abrams expressed his belief that no matter what, a story will not work if the audience doesn’t care about the characters involved, citing Valve’s Half-Life 2 and its silent protagonist Gordon. He stated: “Players are often asked to relate to empty vessels, characters that don’t communicate behavior in a way that you would. It’s as frustrating in a lot of ways, but at least in films we can have compelling scenes and dialog.”
Abrams also stated that “We’re always trying to hide the machinery. Whether it’s a hierarchy system in games where people think they have free will but are actually being led to specific points. Movies have moments that feel real, but they’re like a magic trick. Misdirection. Movies can hide that machinery. They can set things up so you care. If you don’t care about the characters, nothing matters. No space ship, no explosion, no anything is important if you don’t feel something for the people involved.”
On the other hand, Newell mostly agrees with Abrams, though as a gamer he views films differently. When discussing Abram’s Cloverfield, Newell mentioned that “Movies take away this notion of agency… When I’m a gamer, I’m in the game… I understand the narrative device, but as a gamer I’m saying ‘put the camera down and f**king run’ and I can’t do that.” He continued this idea, saying “In games, players are in control of what happens. They control their action.”
Toward the end of the discussion, the two revealed they both hope that their collaboration became “more than talks,” with both expressing their desire to work on future projects together. Abrams stated that he has an idea for a game and is interested in partnering with Valve, while he holds much interest in helping create Portal and Half-Life films.
This is arguably the most exciting news to ever happen in the gaming world, and we hope to hear more on this potential collaboration soon. Until then, J.J. Abrams is currently working on the upcoming Star Trek sequel Star Trek Into Darkness, while Valve is preparing for the release of Dota 2.