By Kevin Kelly
D.I.C.E. 2013 kicked off with a conversation with J.J. Abrams and Gabe Newell, who Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences President Martin Rae called, “Two incredibly accomplished storytellers who have changed the world of film, television and games.” Abrams started the ball rolling by noting that video games have gone from the days of Pong to today, which has been like going from cave drawings to the Renassaince. Newell interrupted Abrams to dispel the notion that games have been becoming more like the movies by showing a clip from Cloverfield.
“That was pretty good,” quipped Abrams. But Newell came back by remarking “As a gamer, I’m saying ‘Put the f**king camera down and run!’” Abrams then blasted back with a Half-Life 2 clip, where Freeman is playing around with the teleporter, while important story is happening behind him while he goofs off and isn’t driven forward. “It can be fun to do stuff like this, but it doesn’t really drive a story,” said Abrams.
Abrams pointed out that we see plenty of examples of idiots in movies, like the people who go outside in a Friday the 13th movie, when they know something bad is going to happen. He illustrated another point with another Half-Life clip, where a lot of exposition happens via talking heads. He mentioned that the characters don’t behave or emote like a real person would. Newell responded by saying that it’s more about the story for the gamer, such as when you’re playing Left 4 Dead, it’s not about Coach or Bill, it’s about you and me.