Earlier today two of the film and gaming industries most influential people decided to get together and discuss their craft. JJ Abrams (film director) and Gabe Newell (Valve) hosted an event titled “Storytelling Across Platforms: Who Benefits Most, the Audience or the Player?” at DICE 2013.
Surprisingly the event was not live streamed (even though it was reported so that it would), but instead was live blogged by several people who attended the event. Below are highlights from the event for anyone interested enough in what happens when two geniuses of their medium come together in an ever expansive think tank situation.
Event started off with the host saying "They are going to sit here and have a conversation and hopefully we're going to learn something and be inspired."
"When you look at the few short decades going from Pong to Portal it's like going from cave drawings to the renaissance."
Newell introduced a clip from Cloverfield to point out the scene of the Statue of Liberty's head flying into the street. Gabe mentioned "I understand the device you're using there, but I can't help but think as a gamer; "Put the camera down and fucking run."
JJ Abrams defends the position by referring to "Youtube has tons of clips like this in the real world" than fires up a clip from Half Life 2, notably Gordon's early arrival into City 17, when he meets with Alyx and Dr. Kleiner at the lab.
Abrams than says "So you have a story going on, but you've got a character throwing shit and teleporting things."
Newell defended this scene: "They are the architects of there own amusement, they're in control and they're making their own choices. Thats the important thing."
Abrams than fired up another Half-life 2 clip of when Gordon runs into Eli, making it a point to throw a grenade at her upon being asked to look around, defending films ability to have good dialog, and relate to the audience.
Newell fired back by saying "When you and I are playing Left 4 Dead and I come over and save you its about us, it's our story."
Abrams claims that story's are not just experiences, but requires set ups and pay-offs to properly do it.
A scene from Jaws is shown next, explaining how the character "Brody" did not fit in, and the assumption is that he wont survive. Than the scene is fast forward to the boat sinking, and Jaws being killed. "This is a character set up for the end of the movie, illustrating how what may appear to be a minor scene becomes crucial to the ending of Jaws."
Newell responds with "Thats something games are trying to take advantage of. It's something we've learned from movies and are trying to apply. "
Gabe than plays a Portal 2 clip: "Take your daughter to work day," and what proves as a set up for the potato-powered GLaDOS. He goes on to explain how the scene sets up how Wheatley feels inferior in regard to his own intelligence.
"One of the advantages we have is when we embed more and more into the experience it allows people to have multiple play troughs" Said Newell.
Abrams responded with "It's something we try to do in movies, we go into a deeper, more insidious process of what we can hide that people can find over time."
Abrams quickly refers to the scene in Star Trek where you can see RS-D2 floating through the air, but also points out that it's not important to the story, but fun to have in there.
Abrams than refers to Die Hard, further illustrating points when movies direct the audience into caring about the main character, citing that video games have a harder time hiding the mechanics behind story telling. He went on to explain the time films take to bond the audience with the character.
Gabe explained that Half-Life stole the idea by allowing players to "play a day in Gordon's life with no explosions or guns." Gabe then shows a scene from Half-Life 2, when Gordon was playing catch with the gravity gun. "You get a new weapon, but at the same time we're telling you a lot about Alyx. Games and movies take advantage of power of discover and that sense of mystery."
Abrams than claims that Portal makes due with no explanation, and it's the mystery that pulls him through that game. "Your job is sick," he tells Gabe.
After a brief moment of compliments, Newell goes into discussing the possibility of a Half-life and/or Portal move! JJ Abrams and Gabe Newell leave us with the possibility of a collaborative project. Mother of God.
For anyone interested in the full recording of this event, you can expect it tomorrow (no specific time was given). What did everyone think of the event, thats one hell of an announcement, eh? Let me know by subscribing to me here and following me on twitter @NicholasGigante.