Eamon O’Rourke Is a Chess King and Video Game Whiz in His Spare Time

When director Eamon O’Rourke is on set, he admits it’s serious business. But when the shoot is over, it’s all fun and games for the laid-back filmmaker. 

O’Rourke is the dynamo behind Asking for It. The film was part of the Tribeca Festival and scored a prestigious ReFrame Stamp for its inclusion of diversity. While making a motion picture can be highly demanding work, Eamon O’Rourke says he makes sure he schedules plenty of downtime whenever possible.

“I love video games. I play a lot of video games,” he confesses. “I think that there's a very interesting merging of video games and film that I think we'll experience. We'll see some very cool combinations of those mediums in the next chunk of years. That's something that I'm very interested in, and games in general. I [also] play a lot of chess.”

Eamon O’Rourke is in good company. According to imdb.com, Julia Roberts, Leonardo DiCaprio, Nicolas Cage, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck are also fans of the game that experienced an explosion of interest and sales thanks to the hit 2020 Netflix series The Queen’s Gambit. Chess has been the focus of many Hollywood films such as Searching for Bobby Fischer, The Dark Horse, and Fresh


Eamon O’Rourke Shares His Lifelong Love for Rooks and Pawns

“It's another thing that I try to do as much as possible and is something that I find very helpful for lots of things,” O’Rourke says. “It's helpful for work, it's helpful for life. Chess just gives access to so many other parts of my life and people's lives. I think it's a great thing. A lot of my community of friends [consists] of gamers. We play a lot of cards, we play a lot of chess, and other kinds of games, a lot of that stuff. That community is really, really important to me and one that when I'm working, I often don't have access to.”


Chess also comes with plenty of health perks, says healthline.com. The website reports that chess can improve memory, boost creativity, prompt planning skills, raise self-awareness, and even help ward off panic attacks and help those with attention disorders. Thechessworld.com states that chess helps ​​grow dendrites, cell appendages that conduct signals from the neuron cells in one’s brain to the neuron to which they are attached. The process increases the speed and improves the quality of neural communication in the brain. 

In his free time, Eamon O’Rourke says he’s also been known to watch movies, which is no surprise for an avid moviemaker. 

“I love watching movies. I would say that's kind of my No. 1 favorite activity. I'm a big relaxer,” Eamon O’Rourke says. “When I'm not doing the work, I really try to chill as much as possible. That often consists of watching movies.”


Time With Family and Friends Helps O’Rourke Reset

When he’s not working, gaming, or relaxing, Eamon O’Rourke says he’s devoted to spending time with family and friends

“I find that [being with] those people, not only is that what makes me happiest, but also that stuff informs the work, and how to do the work, and what the work can look like and be. I think that the feeling of community that I have gotten from my friends and family is something that I'm also sort of ideally trying to recreate on a film set,” he explains. “Spending time with the buds and playing games is probably the most honest answer.”

When it comes to video games, Eamon O’Rourke admits he was brought up on the classics. Video games such as Super Mario Bros. and Zelda are still going strong. And Kirby, who debuted more than 30 years ago on Nintendo’s GameBoy, now has his own game on Nintendo Switch. Kirby: The Forgotten Land even landed on The New Yorker’s Best Video Games of 2022 list. 


Photo by suludan diliyaer: https://www.pexels.com/photo/led-game-controller-on-table-596750/

“I love all of the old-school games. I have a similar thing with movies and with games, which is I like to replay games that I used to play when I was a kid in the same way that I like to watch movies that I'm very familiar with a lot of the time,” he says. “The experience of nostalgia that comes along with doing something that is familiar to you is something that I love. It provides me just very, very sort of deep happiness. [I play ] a lot of old-school Nintendo 64. Currently, I have the Nintendo Switch, which I love. It's great. It's just fantastic. I don't have the PS5 yet, one day. I have a PlayStation 4 and I'm waiting for a little bit longer before getting the PS5, but yeah, I'm all over the place in terms of systems and things like that, because different places have different kinds of games that I like.”

Playing video games comes with its fair share of stress relief benefits. A 2019 National Institutes of Health study found that video games could lower depression symptoms.

“There are many benefits for adults in playing video games,” psychologist Megan McConnell, who specializes in gaming, told wired.com. “They can be a way for us to relax, engage in stories, to connect with friends and family, or to just have fun.”

As for Eamon O’Rourke’s next big creative project, he says he wants his upcoming film to offer a balance between talking about timely world topics and finding a way to be deeply entertaining. Since he enjoys watching his favorite flicks repeatedly, he wants his work to be highly rewatchable. “Trying to balance those things is something that I think about a lot with all of the work that I have done and I'm trying to do,” O’Rourke adds. “Those are the movies that I like the most. There's a message and the themes being discussed really do matter, but they also have humor and have other elements in them.”

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