The Convergence of Video Games and Storytelling
Jordan P. Kelley, Content Director, Brand Storytelling
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Live action content used to promote video games is nothing new. Popular advertisements for games like Crash Bandicoot, Spyro, Super Smash Brothers and more have proved impactful for several decades. But those tended to be traditional ads that ran parallel to but independent of the actual games and experiences themselves. Ads like these are used to this day, most recently for the highly anticipated release of the newest installment in the God of War franchise:
As the technology around video game development advances, so too do the storytelling capabilities within the games themselves. Playable characters look more and more human. There’s an entire burgeoning genre of story-based games employing familiar faces from the screen to provide motion capture performances and lending their likenesses to playable characters. These technological advances bring the stories and experiences that can be crafted by gaming companies to a new, cinematic level. Take the game Death Stranding, for example, whose rollout implemented an over 7 minute cinematic super-trailer to introduce us to the world of the game:
Gaming technology like this creates opportunity to delve deeper into story, blurring the lines between the type of storytelling we see on screen and experience in games. This, in turn, presents a new and unique opportunity to update the way advertising is used to promote games that are more grounded in reality than ever before. Such is the case for the upcoming and anticipated game Shrapnel.
Neon Machine’s Shrapnel is already the first of its kind in its development; the blockchain-enabled AAA customizable First Person Shooter (FPS) video game will be owned by the players according to the developer. The upcoming FPS has also set itself apart in its marketing efforts, holding a fan-fiction contest and issuing a series of comic books all in anticipation of the game's Summer 2023 release. Finally, in a world-building move aligned with the developer's storytelling efforts, Neon Machine worked with All is Well Studios to bring Shrapnel to life in a short film titled “Solitarius Lupus”.
Solitarius Lupus takes full advantage of the emerging opportunity to drive video game marketing forward with story. In this case, it’s made possible by the fact that the game itself is rendered so beautifully, so realistically, that a film shot with real people and subtle touches of CGI is able to appropriately depict the world of the game and capture its energy. The film has also garnered a strong community response in the comment section and on twitter, demonstrating its value in creating affinity and lift for the game.
Video games, film, and advertising have been on a long journey apart from one another, but films like Solitarius Lupus for Shrapnel serve as a great example of the outcome of these once separate mediums’ continuing to converge. It should come as no surprise when we see more "extended universe" video game content like this become popular in the coming years.
About Jordan P. Kelley
Jordan P. Kelley is the Content Director at BrandStorytelling. He is the author of BrandStorytelling's twice weekly newsletter and editor of the Brand Storytelling Forbes Brand Voice Page. He is an avid brand film and advertising trendwatcher and considers himself a "Professional Audience Member".