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… There is no one single source or ur-text where one can turn to gain all of the information needed to comprehend the… [story]. ~ Henry Jenkins
In a March 22, 2007 blog post, “Transmedia Storytelling 101“, Henry Jenkins laid the foundation stone for all subsequent conversation and speculation on the nature of transmedia storytelling. (Nota bene: USC Professor Marsha Kinder is generally credited with coining the term “transmedia” in 1991.) Though transmedia storytelling definitions abound, most trace their DNA back to Jenkins. Attempts to explain the idea of transmedia storytelling sound wonky: discrete constituent parts of a narrative are distributed via diverse audience interfaces, permitting a more interactive, organic and audience-centric story experience… Snooze!
Despite the academic language and the buzzword-laden rants, transmedia storytelling isn’t such a complicated concept. We apply the term primarily in instances where digital communication channels are involved, but the underlying idea is that the audience/player/consumer actively “creates” the story by selecting and aggregating distinct but complementary narrative threads. Uh-oh, I’m slipping into wonk-land. The idea is simple. Articulating the idea, less so.
Immersive multi-channel storytelling…
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