Codex Gamicus
Full-motion video
Basic Information

Full-motion video refers to the use of filmed or animated video sequences in video games, either digitized or played straight from an optical disc storage medium such as a DVD.

The use of full-motion video dates back to Nintendo's electro-mechanical arcade game Wild Gunman in 1974. SEGA's laserdisc arcade game Astron Belt in 1983 led to other video games of its type emerging in the arcades. FMV games then began appearing on home systems, with the 1985 laserdisc add-on for the MSX computer, the 1988 CD-ROM accessory for the TurboGrafx-16 console, and the 1989 FM Towns computer with CD-ROM.


The first game to use full motion video was Nintendo's 1974 light gun shooter Wild Gunman, which used video projection from 16 mm film to display live-action cowboy opponents on a projection screen.[1][2] Another early arcade game to use full motion video was The Driver, an action-racing game released by Kasco (Kansai Seiki Seisakusho Co.) in the 1970s that also used 16 mm film. It required the player to match their steering wheel, gas pedal and brakes with the movements shown on screen, presenting dangerous situations much like those seen in the laserdisc video games that appeared the following decade.[3]

The first laserdisc video game to utilize full-motion video was Astron Belt by SEGA.[4] It was soon followed by the more successful Dragon's Lair by Cinematronics featuring animation by Don Bluth. While laserdisc games were usually either shooter games with full-motion video backdrops like Astron Belt or interactive movies like Dragon's Lair, Data East's 1983 game Bega's Battle introduced a new form of video game storytelling: using brief full-motion video cutscene to develop a story between the game's shooting stages. Years later, this would become the standard approach to video game storytelling.[5] Bega's Battle also featured a branching storyline.[6]

The 1985 MSX version of adventure game Planet Mephius was one of the first computer games with FMV backgrounds and cutscenes, featuring laserdisc anime footage both for storytelling cutscenes and for background graphics overlayed with real-time graphics (the point & click cursor and text-parser interface).

Another early instance of FMV was Hasbro's unreleased video game system named NEMO, which had begun production in 1985. The NEMO home system created games with VHS tapes rather than ROM cartridges or floppy disks.

The use of full-motion video in home consoles came about with the 1988 release of the CD-ROM accessory for NEC's TurboGrafx-16 console. Fujitsu's FM Towns computer released in 1989 was the first home computer with CD-ROM, allowing FMV. An example of an FMV game released for these systems was ICOM Simulations' Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective in 1991.


  1. Wild Gunman (1974) at Museum of the Game
  2. Carl Therrien, Inspecting Video Game Historiography Through Critical Lens: Etymology of the First-Person Shooter Genre, Game Studies: The International Journal of Computer Game Research, Volume 15, issue 2, December 2015, ISSN 1604-7982
  3. The Driver at Museum of the Game
  4. Full-motion video at Allgame via the Wayback Machine
  5. Travis Fahs (March 3, 2008). The Lives and Deaths of the Interactive Movie. IGN. Retrieved on 2011-03-11
  6. Mark J. P. Wolf (2008). The video game explosion: a history from PONG to Playstation and beyond. ABC-CLIO. p. 100. Retrieved 2011-04-10. , ISBN 0-313-33868-X