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On the Ranch with the Creators of "Westworld"

The New Yorker

My day job, in lieu of teaching creative writing like a normal person, is writing scripts for blockbuster video games. Last summer, while I watched a play-through of the then-unreleased Gears of War 4, for which I was the lead writer, something odd happened. The game's story called for a massive plane crash, out of which a single robot, operatically aflame, was intended to stride toward the player. Within the game's fiction, robots have hitherto opposed the player, but we wanted this particular burning robot to pose no immediate threat. The game programmers had thus switched off the hostility driven by the robot's artificial intelligence, allowing the player to walk past the hapless robot or shoot it.


Werner Herzog's Internet Visionaries

The New Yorker

Werner Herzog's films have a common theme: they're about visionaries and dreamers. Sometimes his dreamers accomplish the impossible: he's made two films, for example--"Little Dieter Needs to Fly" and "Rescue Dawn"--about the American pilot Dieter Dengler, who escaped from a Laotian P.O.W. camp and, for twenty-three days, hiked barefoot through the jungle until he reached freedom. But Herzog is also fascinated by delusional dreamers. At the end of his 1972 film "Aguirre, the Wrath of God," the conquistador Aguirre stands on a raft in the Amazon. He's been searching, fruitlessly, for El Dorado; now all his men are dead, and he's speaking only to their corpses and some monkeys.