If you could be anything, what would you be? That’s the operant question behind Everything, a new game for the PlayStation 4 by experimental artist and designer David OReilly, likely best known for designing the videogame sequences in Spike Jonze’s Her. In it, you can purportedly be anything—and everything—you want to be.
“In Everything, every single thing is a playable character,” OReilly wrote in an announcement post on the PlayStation Blog. “If you can see it, you can be it.”
Fantastic. But how the heck would that even work? A brief, conceptual trailer gives answers only in the abstract: flurries of galaxies, suns, and seeds, a whirling mess of thing-ness set to soothing instrumental. Everything does not yet have a release date; OReilly says it’ll be out “as soon as we finish it.”
Not that David OReilly is any stranger to the abstract or the confusing. His previous videogame project was Mountain, a sort of existentialist Tamagotchi, the kind of game that asks players and critics to contemplate the bounds of what they consider a game at all. It generates a mountain that you can barely interact with. From time to time, strange objects or events happen on your mountain. It talks to you. You can’t talk back.
“Like a god that doesn’t exist, you are powerless to pause the cruel march of time, alter the course of history, or explain why a giant clock just crashed like an asteroid into the side of your floating lonely peak,” WIRED’s Bo Moore wrote of the game.
So that initial confusion might be part of the point, a deliberate provocation. “Everything lets you be anything you want,” OReilly writes. “Your main power in the game is Being.”
What is Being, though? Does simply viewing the world from another object’s perspective fill the qualifications of “being”? And could I ever really stop being myself long enough to imagine becoming anything else?
“Everything is a game about the things we see, their relationships, and their points of view. In this context, things are how we separate reality so we can understand it and talk about it with each other,” OReilly writes.
It’s an ambitious idea to tackle in a videogame, and not only from a philosophical point of view. The engines that power most videogames rely on carefully circumscribed constraints and specific conditions for allowing actions. Highly interactive game worlds are incredibly complex to code. A game world where you can not only interact with but also inhabit any object you see sounds nearly impossible.
WIRED reached out to OReilly for insight on how he plans to make it all work, but his publicist told us that he is keeping quiet on the subject for now. He did promise, in the comments of his PlayStation Blog announcement, that he would be posting updates to Facebook and Twitter as development continues.
“There’s more familiar mechanics here, but there are also totally new ones no other game has done,” he said in a comment.
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