Transmedia Literatures

What existing academic models can help us understand transmedia?

The discursive nature of extended, integrated storytelling suggests a literary approach. Videogame theory can certainly help. The interactive component of transmedia is much trickier to assess. It introduces a random quality that is difficult to evaluate. I haven’t seen an explanation that fully captures the aesthetic qualities of interactivity.

Engagement seems very different. After all, mediocre material can be more engaging than the classics. I can watch Glee at any time. I have to have certain quality of focus to enjoy La Regle de Jeu.

I’m interested in pursuing simple, elegant explanations about transmedia storytelling to  counter the hype surrounding it. I love the work of Guillermo del Toro but find this statement overblown. I don’t mean to pick on del Toro. He’s certainly not the only one who feels this way but he expresses himself so passionately that I couldn’t resist quoting him here.

The word “transmedia” is very fancy, but what it means is that we’re at the edge of a new era for storytelling, one that I am convinced will be multiplatform. It will be a delivery-driven experience. You can have an audience participate in the way a story evolves. It’s really important as a storyteller to know how to write a novel or a comic. People think about them as if they need to be similar. They fixate on those similarities. For example, they say, “comic books are storyboards.” Absolutely not. They are not. I think it’s a mistake to talk like that. It negates everything that is unique about storytelling in that medium. I cannot qualify my work, but I know that I am a storyteller. I can only qualify the passion I bring to it, and that’s why I’m involved in transmedia.

Every technological evolution in visual media, sound, color, widescreen, digital has shifted some storytelling parameters without changing the fundamental, underlying principles. It’s hard to believe that transmedia with its roots in technology and marketing will be any different.


About liftingasweclimb

Mildred Lewis writes and directs for theater, television, film and the web. She's also a full time professor, Christian, activist and troublemaker with a passion to save as much of the world as she can.
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