David O'Reilly - Pioneering Video Game Creator Nominated for an Oscar

David O'Reilly speaking at the 2017 Berlin International Film Festival

David O’Reilly is an Irish-born artist who has been making waves in recent years. With his captivating short films like “External World” and “Please Say Something” – the latter winning him the prestigious Golden Bear Award at the Berlin International Film Festival – O’Reilly quickly gained popularity. He also contributed to Spike Jones’ film “Her” and made an unforgettable appearance on “Adventure Time.”

A Unique Approach to Animation

O’Reilly’s distinctive and subversive style immediately struck a chord with audiences. His work combines elements of humor, wit, and horror with innocent and honest characters set in rustic yet meaningful contexts. With his starkly realistic cinematography and minimal use of aesthetic effects, O’Reilly’s cartoons have garnered a loyal following, especially for his creation “Octocat Adventures.”

Transitioning to Video Game Creation

In July 2014, O’Reilly ventured into video game development with his interactive game “Mountain.” Players control a floating mountain, witnessing the growth of trees, falling snow, and rising obstacles. This marked the beginning of his journey into the world of video game creation.


O’Reilly’s latest creation, “Everything,” takes his ideas to new heights. It offers a mechanically generated universe where players can control nearly everything, from the tiniest cellular organisms to vast celestial bodies. This groundbreaking game became the first of its kind to be nominated for an Oscar after receiving recognition at the Vienna Short Film Festival in Austria.

Q&A with David O’Reilly

Q: What drew you to animation, and how did your journey unfold?

Animation is exceptional. It allows you to create your own world and translate your dreams into a visual medium. The freedom to break the boundaries of nature and explore endless possibilities is endlessly fascinating. I could talk about it all day.

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With animation, you can create your own fantasy world.

Q: How does your real life influence your creative work?

I learned the value of hard work from my parents, who have always been my role models. While I don’t buy into Irish clichés, the Irish attitude toward life resonates with me. Growing up in a country with a tumultuous history has shaped my perspective and allowed me to see the world from a unique lens.

Q: How do you think the world of 3D animation has changed since you started, and how do you envision its future?

The world of 3D animation has evolved significantly. Freelance animators have transitioned from platforms like Tumblr and YouTube to platforms like Instagram, where they can showcase their work and earn a living. While the production of animated short films remains prevalent, there is a strong focus on improving the quality of work. This includes shorter working hours, increased diversity, and the integration of templates and automated sequences to make animation accessible to all.

The character and context of David's cartoons are not elaborate, but meaningful.

Q: What were the challenges you faced when transitioning from animation to game development?

From a technical standpoint, the transition was relatively smooth. I utilized real-time animation rendering to enhance game performance. However, dealing with competition and the pressure that comes with creating popular games proved to be challenging. Despite the criticisms and expectations, I remain grateful for the support and recognition my work has received.

An image of the game "Everything"

Q: Can you share the inspiration and creative process behind “Everything”?

The idea behind “Everything” is simple yet profound. It explores the desire to become one with the inanimate objects and natural world that surrounds us. This central concept drove the creation of the game. Collaborating with my partner, Damien di Fede, I designed the mechanics while he handled programming. The game allows players to assume the role of anything they encounter, from a blade of grass to a mighty brown bear. It’s an immersive experience that enables exploration on a grand scale.

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How to play "Everything"

Q: The perception of video games as art is gaining wider acceptance with the success of “Mountain” and “Everything.” What are your thoughts on this matter?

The debate on whether video games can be considered art is ongoing. Personally, I see video game creation as an artistic endeavor. Throughout my career, I have always experimented and pushed boundaries, both in animation and game development. While there may be dissenting voices, it’s essential to respect the multitude of creative expressions that arise from this medium.

Once the single creature is alive, the player can control multiple avatars.

Q: “Everything” has all the elements to receive an Oscar nomination. How do you feel about this, and what impact does it have on the game-making community?

I wasn’t aware that an Oscar nomination would have such a significant impact. While I appreciate the support and recognition, I remain focused on creating meaningful experiences. Awards are not my primary motivation. I believe that as long as a small part of the audience appreciates and connects with my work, I have succeeded.

Although not a movie, "Everything" possesses the elements deserving an Oscar nomination.

Q: Apart from animation and games, what else piques your interest?

I find inspiration in the simple things in life. Conversations with friends and family often lead to the discovery of complexity within the mundane. While I used to explore various art forms, my focus has shifted over the years.

Note: Real-time animation refers to the creation of lifelike scenes using computer software, giving the impression that events are unfolding in real-time, without any time lapses or glitches.

To learn more about David O’Reilly and his work, visit the Caravansarai website.