Video game trailers: how storytelling is used to create identification and appeal with audiences

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Copyright: Ayshan, Han
Abstract
Video game trailers are an effective promotional form of intermediation that enables audiences to navigate and engage with old and new media. Although video game trailers function as advertisements designed to sell a game, they are also stories that provoke social media commentary and debate. Trailers aim to draw the viewer in, convey sound and imagery, and evoke an involuntary reaction of excitement and awe. In this thesis, I will be using the games Fallout 4, Watch Dogs 2, and Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate. In the case studies, I investigate how viewers make sense of the promotional and storytelling aspects of video game trailers. I examine how video game trailers have the potential to arouse emotions and interest before viewers even play the game. Trailers provide an insight into the basic gameplay, not only into the gameplay but also into the story and the characters (protagonists and antagonists). They show audiences the video game theme genre and provide the viewer with a visual and auditory tool to entice possession. This project explores these themes, showing how video game trailers have an inherited cinematic quality but also how trailers actually spend little time presenting actual gameplay. There is a clear connection with movie trailers, teasing the events that will take place in the game and asking the player what will happen next. In this study, I used the methods of narrative analysis and textual analysis to analyse comments from YouTube, Facebook, and a survey of video gamers. The textual analysis of the trailers raises questions of representation and authenticity. In this research, I identified an incongruity between the representation of the core features of a game and the promotion of those features in the trailer. The narrative analysis of the trailers focused on storytelling and emplotment in the trailers. A key theme that has emerged from the analysis is that superheroes engage in vigilantism, a justifiable form of self-administered violence. Gamers may feel at ease with the violence used to correct perceived injustices. There is potential for gamers to consider the moral grey area of vigilante violence and romanticised vigilantism. With their enhanced ability to simulate complex interactive narratives for actual and simulated authenticity, video games offer a sophisticated engagement with players that contributes significantly to their widespread and universal support. The role of culturally created characters in the experience of playing a video game helps stimulate philosophical research. I explore whether normative audience expectations can speed up the development of cultural expectations about the relationship between the player and the narrative of the game and its audience. In this context, I examine case study video game trailers and ask what it means to revise our understanding of the relationship between power, law, and morality while playing the game. I examine and critique how the narrative, and thus the mechanics of a specific game, shapes our understanding of connection, power, law, or morality; I contend that prestige reflects normative privilege and law.
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Publication Year
2022
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Thesis
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PhD Doctorate
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