“Transmedia storytelling represents a process where integral elements of a fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience."
Transmedia storytelling represents a process where integral elements of a fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience. Most often, transmedia stories are based not on individual characters or specific plots but rather complex fictional worlds which can sustain multiple interrelated characters and their stories. (Jenkins Website) As we just learned, transmedia storytelling relies on different types of media, such as a book and a tv show, to tell different aspects of a greater story. Each media technology contributes in a different way to the overall understanding of the series. Game of Thrones is a great example of a transmedia campaign that incorporates different media technologies to build a fictional world of new characters and ideas. I am going to apply Jenkins main points in his transmedia storytelling 101 handout to the Game of Thrones series:
1. Transmedia storytelling represents a process where integral elements of a fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience. Ideally, each medium makes it own unique contribution to the unfolding of the story. So, for example, in The Game of Thrones franchise, key bits of information are conveyed through five novels, two seasons of a TV series, video games, board games, social network sites, YouTube videos, and fan created website. There is no one single source or text where one can turn to gain all of the information needed to comprehend the Game of Thrones universe.
2. Transmedia storytelling reflects the economics of media consolidation or what industry observers call “synergy.” Modern media companies are horizontally integrated – that is, they hold interests across a range of what were once distinct media industries. The Game of Thrones TV show has spawned a video game owned by HBO, as well as online social network games.
3. Most often, transmedia stories are based not on individual characters or specific plots but rather complex fictional worlds which can sustain multiple interrelated characters and their stories. This process of world-building encourages an encyclopedic impulse in both readers and writers. The nature of the Game of Thrones plot creates an endless thirst for new information about the realm. People want to know the geographic layout, the weather, where people live, etc. These new outlets, like video games, allow the fan to explore the world further than they could in the books or even the TV show.
4. Extensions may serve a variety of different functions. The other forms of media can serve to pass the time in between the TV series, which is the most popular form other than maybe the books.
5. Transmedia storytelling practices may expand the potential market for a property by creating different points of entry for different audience segments. Different age groups have access to different media technologies, such as a child who might be interested in the video game but not the drama and/or sexuality of the TV shows. Likewise some people might find the books boring but love the action and suspense of the TV series.
6. Ideally, each individual episode must be accessible on its own terms even as it makes a unique contribution to the narrative system as a whole. Even though each medium contributes to an overall image of the franchise, each does not rely on the other. You do not have to read the books to watch the TV show, and vice versa.
7. Because transmedia storytelling requires a high degree of coordination across the different media sectors, it has so far worked best either in independent projects where the same artist shapes the story across all of the media involved or in projects where strong collaboration (or co-creation) is encouraged across the different divisions of the same company. Most media franchises, however, are governed not by co-creation (which involves conceiving the property in transmedia terms from the outset) but rather licensing (where the story originates in one media and subsequent media remain subordinate to the original master text.) In Game of Thrones, licensing seems to be the case. The author of the series owns the rights to all reproductions and characters in the series, so he has control of video games, TV series, etc.
8. Transmedia storytelling is the ideal aesthetic form for an era of collective intelligence. As mentioned earlier, there is an endless desire for more knowledge about the franchise. Fans want to talk and share thoughts about the TV shows, and social media allows them to do that. Fans more than ever are participating and going out of their way to find out more about the shows they are watching.
9. A transmedia text does not simply disperse information: it provides a set of roles and goals which readers can assume as they enact aspects of the story through their everyday life. There are action figures, video games, board games, even role playing games online where you can play out the role of your favorite Game of Thrones character.
10. The encyclopedic ambitions of transmedia texts often results in what might be seen as gaps or excesses in the unfolding of the story: that is, they introduce potential plots which can not be fully told or extra details which hint at more than can be revealed. The YouTube trailers for the third season are great examples of hinting at information or leaving holes to be filled. It creates a tension and desire in the audience for more, and therefore makes the franchise valuable.