A pioneer of “French touch” videogaming, Éric Chahi uses his travels and experiences to bring his video games to life. An industry veteran, he also likes to experiment with new technologies, as his next virtual reality title attests: Paper Beast (2019).
Born in 1967 in the Paris region, Éric Chahi released his first major success in 1991: Another World. Set in a world of science fiction, this game impresses with its graphics and animations. A few years later in 1998, another cult game, Heart of Darkness, was born, which depicts a boy going in search of his dog in a world of darkness. While the era was characterised by 3D, the work uses 2D visuals yet surprises with its Hollywood-worthy universe and music.
In the early 2000s, photography enthusiast Erich Chahi travelled the world in search of active volcanoes. Indonesia, Hawaii and Etna are just some of the destinations that led him to his new game, From Dust, in 2011 in which he brings to life a divine entity guiding a tribe. To help the characters, you have to take sand, water and lava and shape the environment to create paths and avoid natural disasters. After designing a volcano simulator for La Réunion in 2014, Éric Chahi founded the Pixel Reef studio and released Paper Beast at the end of 2019.
Two aspects define Éric Chahi’s style. First, a fascination with cinema: while Another World was inspired by Star Wars, Heart of Darkness has marked a generation of players thanks to its cinematic introduction in synthetic images reminiscent of the film Toy Story. This is evidenced by the anecdote relating to Steven Spielberg’s encounter with the team behind Heart of Darkness at a show in 1995, when he reportedly asked them if they could create a film adaptation. As the game was then deep in production, the suggestion did not go any further.
Another important dimension for Éric Chahi was animation and its realism. In their time, Another World and Heart of Darkness captivated their audiences with the realistic movements of their characters. Even today, with the release of Paper Beast approaching, this relationship with simulation and nature is still predominant: while From Dust had the player control natural elements, Paper Beast immerses him or her virtually in an ecosystem brimming with life.
Éric Chahi has had an undeniable influence on the video game. Many players see Another World as a graphic and narrative shift for the medium.
And that's not all: some great designers have acknowledged being inspired by it. This is the case with Fumito Ueda from Japan (Ico, 2001, Shadow of the Colossus, 2005, The Last Guardian, 2016), who is also influenced by nature and realistic animation. Even today, Éric Chahi is considered to be a singular French creator of the videogaming scene.
Release of the action-adventure game Another World.
Release of the adventure game Heart of Darkness.
Release of the spiritually-themed simulation game From Dust.
Éric Chahi creates an interactive volcano simulator for La Cité du Volcan (Volcano House).
Éric Chahi founds the Pixel Reef studio.
Release of the virtual reality game Paper Beast.
Paper Beast by Éric Chahi will be presented on the Institut français platform dedicated to independent video games, culturegamer.fr, available at the beginning of 2020.
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