How to write video game trailer scripts

3 min read

Part of a Voice123 scriptwriting series written and compiled to provide tips, ideas, and examples

So you want to write killer video game trailer scripts? Then let’s help get you started!

(Also, remember to take a look at our other posts in the series on commercial, documentary, explainer, and promotional scripts as well).

Writing video game trailer scripts is all about creating expectation and a sense of urgency. Consequently, video game trailer scripts and movie trailer scripts can be bundled together because the same writing approach applies to both — even though the level of viewer interaction differs.

Who knows what big-screen movies and video games may become in future? Augmented reality and virtual reality are developing at such a pace that a fusion of the two is probably pretty much inevitable eventually.

Video game trailer scripts

Given their intended purpose, video game trailers are shorter than movie trailers — around 60 seconds is thus a good average for video game trailer scripts.

If you’re uncertain how to convert word count into duration, have a look at this post. Remember that long trailers are likely to bore potential gamers, and that’s certainly not what you want! 

Planning

Your script must tell a good story. (We say this a lot in our scriptwriting series). Even if features like graphics and game-mechanics are of great importance to you, storytelling is what will get gamers interested initially. For this very reason, and because you’re marketing your game to them, get them to invest their time and interest in the storyline first before you ask them to spend their money. Fast Company’s 10 Commandments of Content post is a great read in this regard.

Image of fantasy world
Image: Shutterstock

Here are some questions for you:

  • What’s unique about your game? 
  • What makes it really stand out when compared to the competition? 
  • Why is it super-entertaining to play? 
  • What’s a good way to incorporate gameplay elements into your storytelling?

Alternatively, getting one of the game characters to narrate a teaser or offer an overview of the game in the form of a captivating — if sometimes cryptic — monolog is a popular format if the video game trailers on major streaming sites are anything to go by. Besides, you’re sure to find just the right voice actor to do your narration for you on Voice123!

Something all video game trailer scripts should include is a call to action. Therefore, you should use phrases that prompt people to take the next step like downloading the game after they’ve watched the trailer, for example. Determine what the most compelling aspect of the game is and get people to react or interact with it.

Writing the script 

Before you start writing, ask yourself:

  • Who’s your audience?
  • What’s the core message?
image of boy facing screen playing game
Photo by Alex Haney on Unsplash

You may find it worthwhile to write a synopsis first of all. Just bullet the most important details your script needs to contain. Your video game trailer script must make logical sense to your viewers, so it needs a strong beginning, a tantalising middle, and an irresistible end. Why? Because you want it to be both persuasive and actionable.

Here are some (fictitious) examples to give you an idea of the narrative approach:

Example 1: 

Image of wizard
Image: Shutterstock

Client: Game Arts

Title: The Weirdstone

Target audience: Young adult

Actor Gender/Age: Male/Senior

Duration: 60 sec

Wordcount: 100

Reading pace: Normal

Description: Narrator, medieval-styled fantasy RPG

Direction notes: 60+. A wizard like in Lord of the Rings — think Gandalf. He’s speaking to the main player-protagonist. There’s a sense of foreboding. He needs to sound tired but not defeated. He’s telling the hero about what happened. Cutaways to game elements reveal what lies ahead. He must sound fearful initially, but must end off sounding defiant and hopeful.

We’d always known about them. (Pause)

In the village, their menace hung over us like a shadow, the stories of their insatiable hunger passed down from generation to generation. (Pause). 

Still they came without warning. By the time the crows alerted me, it was too late to sound the alarm. (Pause)

Few villagers reached the safety of Aedylwood. (Pronounced: ‘Ee-dill-wood). I hid them all behind the veil of the waterfall so they wouldn’t hear the screams of the captured being slaughtered and eaten. (Pause).

I knew you’d come and I’m glad you’re here. Finally. (Pause). 

They can be beaten and I will help you. Come, Warrior, let us begin!

<<oOo>>

Example 2: 

Picture of Tiffany Thompson, PI
Image: Shutterstock

Client: Game Arts

Title: Tiffany Thompson, PI

Target audience: Young adult

Actor Gender/Age: Female/young adult

Duration: 60 sec

Wordcount: 100

Reading pace: Normal

Description: Co-protagonist in a detective puzzler

Direction notes: 30+. Tiffany Thompson is a tough, ex-NYPD cop who’s seen and done it all. She’s addressing the viewer/player. Her voice needs to sound gritty and disdainful because she’s unimpressed and antagonistic. As a result of choices the player makes, her manner and attitude will change during the course of the game. This is dialog, so it mustn’t sound ‘read’.

Okay, fine — so Lieutenant Frank Dillinger sent you, right? (Pause).

That means I don’t like you, so we’re off to a great start. Did Frank fill you in, or did you look at the case file? There isn’t much in it — yet.

I’ve got Jimmy McKeegan of the FBI on my ass, so you’d better be a good cop; we don’t have much time. By the way — are you squeamish? The body parts have been removed, but there’s still blood everywhere. Watch your step and don’t touch anything; we’re just here to look. 

Shall we go in? 

Well, go on — open the door.

<<oOo>>

And with that, we wish you every success with your video game trailer scriptwriting!