Eric Viennot died of cancer on Wednesday July 27 in Marseille, his family said in a press release sent to his relatives, then relayed on Linkedin on Friday. He was 62 years old.
Born on March 10, 1960, in Lyon, Eric Viennot was one of the most recognized French video game creators in the profession. He was thus the author of a protean work, educational games for children as well as less personal products for the very general public, but also very experimental titles whose originality has been regularly praised. To the point of selling “more than 8 million” copies according to its website and to be made, in 2007, Knight of Arts and Letters.
Initially a visual arts teacher at the Sorbonne, in 1990 he co-founded the Lexis Numérique studio, first specializing in computer-generated images, then in the development of video games. Between 1998 and 2004, he produced the series The Adventures of Uncle Ernest. In these games influenced by Robert Louis Stevenson and Jules Verne, young players were offered the opportunity to leaf through virtual logbooks, written and illustrated by a facetious uncle, who imagines himself living adventures in the four corners of the world. – and even into space.
The obsession with “transmedia” video games
From the publication of the first episode in 1998, The world boasts a “an adventure mixing action and reflection” at “amazing universe”, “halfway between the past and the future”in which you have to finish an unfinished picture album “using insects, as well as various tools and objects, such as the camera or the metal detector”. Intended for a young audience, The Adventures of Uncle Ernest already have fun mixing video games, notebooks and small films, which punctuate the adventure.
This obsession with what he called video games “transmedia”Eric Viennot will make it the engine of what is perhaps his most famous work, the series In Memoriamthe first episode of which was released in 2003. This time, he recounts a very adult adventure, in a thriller style, by undertaking to blur the boundary between the media, but also that between fiction and reality.
Indeed, the protagonists of this investigation told in video do not hesitate to contact the player by e-mail and SMS, even to leave him messages (pre-recorded) on the answering machine of his mobile phone. Other clues are also hidden on fake websites set up for the occasion, and even on the site of Releasewhich, as a partner of the event, posted four “fake” articles taking place in the fiction of the game for the occasion.
The search for “total fiction”
In 2012, Eric Viennot and the Lexis Numérique studio will push the promise ofIn Memoriam with his spiritual successor, Alt minds. Players no longer just have to exit the game to search for clues on the Internet (or, this time, on the World, partner of this new title): they must work together to get them outside, in real life, by going, for example, to the locker room of a train station in Belgrade, or even by physically meeting certain characters. The adventure, moreover, takes place in real time, over a period of eight weeks: every evening, the players are thus invited to discuss together to take stock of their research and their conclusions.
As pointed out at the time The worldthe goal is then to “attempt the convergence between video games, Internet network, mobile telephony and cinema to finally reach the Holy Grail [d’Eric Viennot]what he calls “total fiction”.
If the judicial liquidation of Lexis Numérique was pronounced in 2017, Eric Viennot has never stopped working on the question of transmedia narration. In January 2021, he thus undertook to publish, in the form of a newsletter, a serialized investigation.
At the rate of two episodes per week, Eric Viennot tells how he tried “to distinguish between fact and fiction” after reading a short story, presented as true, in the book The Atlas of the Abandoned Islands (published by Arthaud in 2010). The author, the German Judith Schalansky, tells the story of Marc Liblin, a Frenchman who dreams since his earliest childhood in “a language that is totally unknown to him”and who discovers at 33 that it is an old Polynesian idiom.
Paused in July 2021, the newsletter was to experience a second season in 2022, which will not see the light of day. In June 2022, Eric Viennot however explained on Twitter to bring the “final touches” to a book devoted to the subject, evoking in passing a future film.
Final touches to the book The Man Who Dreamed in an unknown language. Upcoming movie info. (Stay tuned… https://t.co/vmFToxV4uq
Eric Viennot in a few dates
March 10, 1960 Birth in Lyon
1990 Co-founded the Lexis Numérique studio
1998-2004 Realized The Adventures of Uncle Ernest, series of five puzzle adventure video games
2003 First episode of the series In memoriam
2007 Knight of Arts and Letters
July 27, 2022 Death in Marseilles