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What is Transmedia?

robert | December 12, 2010  ‐  2 Comments

Q: Does the “trans” in transmedia stand for transfer or transcend?
A: It has to be both

Transmedia storytelling is more than just having the reader jump from one media to another, it’s having the story transcend the media – to engage and engross the audience to the degree that they don’t notice the media switch.

Many argue that the best single-media – a good book or a good movie – has the power to take the audience away to another place and forget the current surroundings. That’s true. But what happens when the book is read and the movie over? There are questions: Why? How? Who? Where? And that’s when the best transmedia storytelling leverages that engagement by removing the decision making between “the book I’ve just finished” and “where can I buy the next piece of media in this franchise?” Transmedia storytelling seamlessly transports the audience from media to media on a cushion of coherent storyworld (and frictionless purchasing process?).

Transmedia: Evolved

Transmedia storytelling is a large umbrella that covers multiple single-media projects and a single multiple-media project… and of course the two combined.

It’s easy to call the first type of transmedia “a franchise” because it most closely resembles what we’re familiar with – the book adapted to become a movie adapted to become a game adapted to become a toy… except of course in transmedia storytelling neither media is an adaptation of the other: they’ll all originals but with the same roots (like siblings but with no twins).

That second type of transmedia storytelling  – the single multiple-media project – is more often than not referred to as an ARG because again that is the implementation with the highest profile. But an ARG is a special type of  transmedia project.

So how should I describe entertainment can grow and contract to suit my time and location (and device if one is needed)? A form of transmedia storytelling that in one moment is single-media and at another moment multiple media? Not quite an ARG and yet interactive, participatory and blurs the line between fact and fiction?

It’s called Pervasive Entertainment.