The company president told TVNZ1’s Breakfast show on Thursday that he had travelled to New Zealand in March for a planned ten-day visit, but decided to stay when the country announced it was closing its borders due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Newell was travelling with a group including Spanish racecar driver Alex Riberas and his partner Teagan Klein, following the completion of Half-Life: Alyx.
The group now plans to hold a free event and concert, ‘We Love Aotearoa‘, to thank New Zealand for hosting them during the Pandemic. The country recently removed all domestic restrictions due to its strong handling of the Covid-19 virus.
Newell said: “When we first got here we had friends at WETA [Workshop] and that gave us an opportunity to connect with new people like the Rocket Labs company and [VR company] Eight 360.
“That was all stuff we had originally planned, but because we had those connections we’ve continued to connect with more people and discover new things about New Zealand and that’s made it very easy.”
He added: “The hardest part, by far, is being worried about friends and family who aren’t in New Zealand… when I talk to people back in Seattle, it’s a very strange time. It’s very challenging. They’re very isolated [and] aren’t able to go out.”
Newell said that because of the restrictions in place in the US, he is able to continue working remotely as if he were back in Seattle.
“There’s no difference if you’re in Seattle or if you’re in New Zealand: everybody’s working remotely, everybody’s using the same set of tools. So I can work here pretty much as effectively as I could if I were at home.”
VGC’s Half-Life: Alyx review calls the shooter “a stunning return for Half-Life and an essential VR purchase – if you have the required equipment and space.”