Trailers in between short video forms from digital games to movies and back

Enrico Gandolfi, Roberto Semprebene


Promotional trailers represent a significant trend in most entertainment sectors. However, little efforts have been done in enlightening this expressive form when related to video games. This article aims to address such a lack by analyzing game/movie (inspired by digital games) trailers as a crossroad between digital entertainment and films. The main intent is to exploit a comparative lens to uncover leading traits of short videos according to the medium that that they are portraying. Therefore, three case studies – i.e. Assassin’s Creed, Warcraft, and Overwatch – are presented and unpacked with a combination of design and semiotic tools (from Greimas’ narrative program to game heuristics) and the concepts of symmetry, dissymmetry and asymmetry advanced by Roger Caillois. Results point to a cross-media coherence between different types of trailers, and future developments are suggested for exploiting them as an informing research object.

Palabras clave

Assassin’s Creed; Cross media; Game trailers; Movie trailer; Overwatch; Roger Caillois; Tie-in; Warcraft


ADAMS, W. E. & DORMANS, J., Game Mechanics: Advanced Game Design, San Francisco, New Riders, 2012.

BATEMAN, C. & BOON, R., 21st Century Game Design, Hingham, Charles River Media, 2006.

BITTANTI, M. (ed.), Schermi interattivi. Il cinema nei videogiochi, Rome, Meltemi, 2008.

BOLTER, J. D. & GRUSIN, D., Remediation: Understanding New Media, Cambridge, The MIT Press, 1999.

CAILLOS, R., «Mimicry and legendary psychasthenia», October, 1 (1935/1984), pp. 17–32.

CAILLOIS, R., Cohèrences aventureuses, Paris, Gallimard, 1976.

CARLSON, R., «Too Human versus the enthusiast press: Video game journalists as mediators of commodity value», Transformative Works and Cultures, 2 (2009), available at

DE VRIES, E. L. E. & LADO, N., «Abstract: Seduced at the Movies: Interactive Cinema Advertising Enhances Advertising Effectiveness by Lowering Construal Level for HighInvolved Consumers», in Stieler M. (eds.), Creating Marketing Magic and Innovative Future Marketing Trends. Developments in Marketing Science: Proceedings of the Academy of Marketing Science, Berlin, Springer, 2017.

ECO, U., Trattato di semiotica generale. Milan, Bompiani, 1975.

ELIAS, S. G., GARFIELD, R. & GUTSCHERA, K. R., Characteristics of Games, Cambridge, The MIT Press, 2012.

FLOCH, J. M., Identità visive. Costruire l’identità a partire dai segni (third edition), Milan, Franco Angeli, 2012.

GANDOLFI, E. & SEMPREBENE, R., «Play the game in the opening scene A multidisciplinary lens for understanding (video)ludic movies, including Super Mario Bros., Resident Evil and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World», G/A/M/E, 4 (2015), available at

GANDOLFI, E., «Beyond Diagonal Sciences: Applying Roger Caillois’s Concepts of Symmetry and Dissymmetry to Journey», Games and Culture, (2016), Epub ahead of print September 14, 2016, doi: 10.1177/1555412016667342.

GREIMAS, A. J., Structural Semantics: an Attempt at a Method. Lincoln, University of Nebraska Press, 1983.

JOHNSTON, K. M., Coming Soon: Film Trailers and the Selling of Hollywood Technology, Jefferson, Mcfarland & Co Inc Pub, 2009.

JUUL, J., Half real, Cambridge, The MIT Press, 2005.

KARRAY, S. & DEBERNITZ, L., «The effectiveness of movie trailer advertising», International Journal of Advertising, 36 (2017), pp. 368-392.

LIU, S. et al., «What Makes a Good Movie Trailer?: Interpretation from Simultaneous EEG and Eyetracker Recording», in Hanjali A. & Snoek C. (eds.), Proceedings of the 2016 ACM on Multimedia Conference, New York, ACM, 2016.

PEVERINI, P., Il videoclip. Strategie e figure di una forma breve, Milan, Meltemi, 2004.

PEZZINI, I., Trailer, spot, clip, siti, banner. Le forme brevi della comunicazione audiovisiva, Milan, Meltemi, 2002.

ŠVELCH, J., «Towards a typology of video game trailers: Between the ludic and the cinematic», G/A/M/E, 4 (2015), available at

WOLF, M. J. P., «Inventing Space: Toward a Taxonomy of On- and Off- Screen Space in Video Games», Film Quarterly, 51 (1997), pp. 11-23.


Licencia de Creative Commons
Este obra está bajo una licencia de Creative Commons Reconocimiento-NoComercial 4.0 Internacional.