Video games have long been a way to form relationships, explore the world around us, and ponder on what it means to be human. The more time we spend in virtual worlds and the more intricate those worlds become, the stronger this social aspect of gaming becomes.
Directors Ekiem Barbier, Guilhem Causse and Quentin L’helgoualc’h spent a combined total of 963 hours in the unique world of DayZ, where communities of people attempt to survive in a shared postapocalyptic wasteland. The game world spans a total of 250 square kilometers and contains many possibilities and details which can only be appreciated as the game progresses.
As the film is captured entirely in the virtual game world, we meet only the avatars of deeply immersed players for whom the boundaries of physical and virtual realities have become blurred. Hundreds and thousands of hours of gameplay are spent wandering, growing food, and forming communities. This cinematic journey also features zombies, cannibals and bullet-dodging, and we even meet a group of players whose sole purpose is to kill as many fellow players as they can.
This is a new way of existence in the digital age, not an escape from reality. Especially as restrictive COVID-19 measures take effect, this new-found freedom gains novel forms. For many of the players, these virtual worlds offer things the physical world simply cannot.
Paavo Ihalainen (translated by Virpi Sumu)
Content warning: violence and killing in the game world