This trailer stands in a long line of game trailers that make me wonder if I even have it in me to make something this clever.
In other words: I love it.
In its 4th wall breaking structure, this trailer shows how to play the game, and makes a game that takes place on a computer desktop about as exciting to watch as you can. This is also the rare example of a trailer where text is the meat of the trailer instead of a distraction or a hard sell.
Emily is Away Too is the sequel to the free game Emily is Away by Kyle Seeley. The original game is essentially a game of dialogue trees framed in an AOL Instant Messenger window. Once you select your dialogue choice you mash random keys on your keyboard and the scripted response types out. In some cases, the character in the game types a response, then thinks better of it, and deletes it to write something else, which is a great way to show the inner voice of the protagonist.
Emily is Away Too expands the scope of the original game by incorporating the character's computer desktop, real YouTube links (cleverly framed in a window to recreate how YouTube originally looked), Facebook pages and downloadable attachments.
The trailer starts as an IM conversation about making the trailer, then segues into a music montage via a YouTube link. This cleverly uses the game's mechanics to "start" the music and simultaneously show new players how the game differs from the original.
The montage starts by setting up an AOL Instant Messenger profile. During this there's a lot of text on screen, but it shuffles through quickly enough to signal to the audience they're not supposed to try to read through it all.
The only things I would change about this trailer is the amount of text during certain sections, mainly the section from 1:01 through 1:11 is guilty of this. This section is intended as a montage of different conversations during the game, but there's so much text we don't have time to read much of it, so it's frustrating.
The idea of "montage of conversations" doesn't read as well as "montage of AIM profiles" because the profiles have an element of art and design to them that communicate their point. The point of the conversations is their text, so if we can't consume that information, it goes in one ear and out the other. This would've been a good opportunity to show a bit of the story of the game via small snippets, but instead my eyes glaze over during this short section.
The trailer segues with a musical flourish to a montage of new features like the Facebook pages, YouTube videos, meme websites, and downloadable attachments. Then it wraps up at 1:26 with a final conversation about staying friends. These last windows could've also benefited from less text on screen, but it slows down enough to make it understandable.
Breaking the 4th wall doesn't necessarily make a trailer is clever, but when used in the right situations like here, it can be very effective. It's important to arrive upon creative direction because the source material's art direction, story or tone guides the way. For example, there are now a LOT of game trailers that use the 80s VHS format, but they're not all motivated or justified by the source material. This idea of letting the material guide the stylistic choices is something I discussed in my post about trailers that use sound effects as their musical score. Nitpicks aside, I love this trailer; ideas like this always keep me on my toes.