JJ Abrams working to adapt Half Life and Portal

Posted by David Konow

It’s a sad song we sing all too often. Where’s the great video game movie?

We thought for a long time we’d never get to know, but in recent months we’ve seen Ubisoft putting several of their games into development as feature films, and a number of other game companies have followed suit. 

Perhaps the biggest sign that a big game movie adaptation could be in our near future is the fact that JJ Abrams is now developing movie versions of Half Life and Portal. As Variety tells us, Abrams is working closely with the gaming company Valve to turn Half-Life and Portal into films, and Abrams made this announcement at the D.I.C.E. Conference in Vegas. (D.I.C.E. stands for Design, Innovate, Communicate, Entertain.) 
As Forbes confirms, Abrams is also thinking of developing a game with Valve as well, which could indeed make some interesting filmmaking / game development synergy. When on earth Abrams is going to have time to do all of this is beyond us, maybe he’s getting by on two hours of sleep a week, especially considering he’s wrapping up Star Trek Into Darkness, and will then dive into the next Star Wars film. 
Apparently Portal appeals to his love of mystery, and he said at the conference, "You start Portal with no idea why you’re there. The whole game is about figuring out the mystery and what’s going on. The more you play, the more you learn, the more you felt."
Considering Abrams really has very strong pop culture radar, we think his interest in making movies out of games could be the best evidence yet that Hollywood’s willing to give video games another go on the big screen. Variety also listed the current games in development to become films, and it’s quite sizable already: Assassin’s Creed, Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell, Need For Speed, World of Warcraft, Deux Ex, Uncharted, Mortal Kombat, Asteroids, Missile Command, Spy Hunter, Twisted Metal, Mass Effect, and Hitman.
Whew! So now it’s all a question of which one will make it to the big screen first. If Hollywood can finally make a good, or even a great video game adaptation, then the floodgates are really going to open. Again, we think Abrams’s interest is really going to throw down the gauntlet, so don’t be surprised to see more game adaptation announcements to come.