This month I have the pleasure of learning about transmedia from an excellent and thorough resource. I recently borrowed the book, A Creator’s Guide to Transmedia Storytelling by Andrea Phillips from the library. Many of the answers to the prompt were discussed in the first few chapters. I also reviewed some of the resources available in the assignment details to have a more comprehensive understanding of trans-media.
The definitions of the terms transmedia and cross media can sometimes confuse beginning media professionals. Andrea Phillips says that, “telling a transmedia story involves one of two processes”. The first is telling a single story across multiple media. The second is starting with one story but continuing to add pieces across media channels. Each story has different narratives and perspectives. They can include many points of view and some can add characters that are not including in the anchor medium.
Creating a world with various forms of media for your viewer is transmedia storytelling. My favorite example of transmedia story-telling is from the show, The Office. When popular characters, Jim Halpert and Pam Beesly, got engaged, storytellers decided to created a wedding website, halpertbeesly.com, which looked and felt just like a real couple’s wedding website. This is a great example of transmedia and is not an example of cross-media (which will be defined soon) because the website gave a different narrative. It was not something that was featured in the show. It enhanced the story and made the viewers apart of their favorite character’s world.
In contrast, Cross Media is a, “single story re-told in several ways,” (Lacobacci, Nicoletta). A great example is being able to stream a thriller tv series on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon that was orginally aired on television. Being able to produce the same story on multiple platforms is cross-media. The content developer created one piece of content and viewers can enjoy it on the medium of their choice. You can get your Olivia Pope fix on Thursday nights at 10 p.m. (PST) or recorded to your DVR. You can also watch it on Hulu from your iPad, cell phone, laptop or through your Wii. This is cross-media.
Another form of transmedia is called ARGs or Alternative Reality Games. These games qualify as transmedia because they usually engage the customers online as well as through tangible products that enhance the gaming experience. Andrea Phillips had the pleasure of working on Perplex City. This thrilling game is about murder, intrigue, betrayal and conspiracy. The players are engaged through emails, newspapers and even cell phone calls. The usual limits to engaging players do not exist. The players are encouraged to purchase puzzles which provides information and entertainment unavailable through any other medium.
Alternative Reality Games intensify the player’s involvement with the creator’s, other players and most importantly the characters. The players become involved in the love lifes, safety and experiences of the characters. Players have been known to collectively mourn the lose of favorite characters in the real world.
Transmedia and Alternative Reality Games depend on viewer and player interaction. They expect participants to become involved and affected by the outcome of the stories. Cross-media is one-sided. It is like traditional television and marketing. You get what I give you, I just have more ways to get to you.