'District 9' Director Neill Blomkamp is Working on Video Games Now, Which Feels Inevitable
Talk about a long, winding, circuitous path back to one’s roots. Neill Blomkamp, best known for writing and directing the movie District 9, is finally arriving full circle with a slightly unexpected, yet fully unsurprising change in medium.
IGN reports that Blomkamp will be working with developer Gunzilla Games to create a game described as an “AAA multiplayer shooter that aims to weave in narrative elements.” With the title of Chief Visionary Officer (he is quoted as referring to the role as “an egalitarian version of being a film director”), Blomkamp will be coordinating with multiple teams to hash out the fine details on all levels of development. He admits that while this is something of a film director-adjacent position, this will also be new territory for the filmmaker:
“It comes from a place of bringing directorial skills that would be along the lines of the films that I’ve done before to the aesthetic of the game.
The difference [from directing a film] is not acting like a single point that guides the creative team. It’s making sure that you’re integrated into the team in a real way. I can come in with a very definitive point of view, but it has to work on two levels. It has to be accepted by the greater team as the right creative direction to go in. And it also has to be, first and foremost, something that can integrate into the architecture of gameplay in a way that’s beneficial to the game.”
Though tightlipped on any specific details, including the title of the game, Blomkamp does slightly more than hedge his bets on the setting. It’s familiar territory for fans of his movies: it’s described as “near future science fiction.” But it won’t have any connections to his previous film work, in case you’re wondering. In terms of games, however, he draws a direct comparison to the Remedy game Control (which I personally happen to be right in the middle of playing these days!) as it pertains to visuals such as environmental details and ray tracing.
Blomkamp also goes a little further on just how his screenwriting experience will play into game development:
Well, the primary thing no matter how you cut it will be player agency and the ability for players to just interact with it in a shooter environment in a way that hopefully is a really, really cool game to them – which means, in the event of being dropped in and playing, narrative takes a back seat. But if you think of something like Elysium, the amount of forethought to build the world, you may be spending 95% of the time thinking through the worldbuilding in order to get to the 5%, which is the movie that you watch. And I think that you could apply the same sort of mentality where depending on how much backstory and world creation you’re building, you’re going to end up with a more convincing, awesome world to drop the player into. In terms of actual specific narrative, there are also other avenues that players can begin to learn more about things that we’re talking about.
Been There, (Almost) Done That
Longtime fans and newcomers alike should be aware that this isn’t Neill Blomkamp’s first video game-related rodeo. All indications point to a long flirtation between Blomkamp’s, er, camp and a potential Halo movie produced by Peter Jackson. To the perpetual disappointment of many fans, this project never got off the ground, despite Blomkamp’s direct involvement with some proof-of-concept live action Halo shorts.
On a happy note, this failed attempt led to Jackson and Blomkamp teaming up for the director’s debut with District 9. Things certainly worked out, even if Blomkamp has been searching to recapture that lighting-in-a-bottle magic ever since. Perhaps this swerve into video games will be just the creative jumpstart he needs.
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