Update: Rescheduled for October 10, 2019.
The full motion video (FMV) genre seemingly died out in the late-1990s as increases in rendering technology helped games move into a more “realistic” turn. Yet, in recent years, Until Dawn (2015) and Her Story (2015) have returned to the genre through bringing back increasing usage of a stronger film language to tell a more “visual” story in the medium of video games. Presented as a series of moments where a choice can be made before the video then takes over the action on screen, the recent Erica (2019) is a full motion video game. Yet, at the same time, it is also a much more well-shot movie-like experience than the more cheesy nature of the original genre and exemplar games like Dragon’s Lair (1983) and Night Trap (1992).
This month, let’s consider that line between movie and game. Where is the ludic threshold? Where does agency start in video games? Can an experience be a game without agency? When was Erica (2019) the most effective in telling its story: when it gave a sense of control, or when it took it away from the player?
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