Irishman becomes first game designer in the running for an Oscar

David O'Reilly's 'Everything' is the first computer game to join an Academy Awards long list

To date, between competitive and honorary categories, 17 Irish men and women – by means of having citizenship – have taken home an Oscar statuette. But next February could well bring about Ireland’s 18th Academy Award-winner, who would simultaneously be a first in the Academy’s history.

David O’Reilly, from Kilkenny, has become the first video game designer to be eligible for an Oscar nomination, with the 10-minute trailer to his critically-acclaimed Everything in contention for ‘Best Animated Short’.

The game, a far cry from what most people expect of a piece of gaming entertainment, has received overwhelmingly strong reviews, with the trailer winning the ‘Jury Prize of Animation’ at the Vienna Shorts Festival. By virtue of that accolade, the game is now on the Oscar long list, making it the first ever video game or interactive project to do so.

The Vienna Shorts Festival describes Everything as “being beyond entertaining [with a] strong poetic and philosophical theme. It serves a highly educational purpose, including an important statement, that encourages us to let our egos dissolve and gain a new perspective on the world.”

Everything is billed as an “open-ended interactive experience and reality simulation game.” In it, players move through the game’s universe, switched between playing as a stone, a tree, a building, or everything on screen.

According to O’Reilly, the game asks players to consider how “there are thousands of thing that perceive, think and interact differently while being driven by the same underlying rules.”

In the trailer, philosopher Alan Watts narrates the action, offering a discourse on the nature of humanity and its place in the universe, while challenging our very understanding of what is and what is not human. In the process, it’s fair to say that the Everything trailer also asks the Academy voters to reconsider what constitutes an animated short, or indeed an ‘Oscar-worthy’ one.

Take a look at the trailer in full below:

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