Transmedia Is Overrated

Henry Jenkins defines transmedia as storytelling that “immerses anaudience in a story’s universe through a number of dispersed entry points, providing a comprehensive and coordinated experience of a complex story.” 

Today in Production Contexts we touched on the difference between Transmedia Storytelling and Adaptations of one story.

A good example of adaptation was the Bible. There have been various films, comic books etc., made around the Bible but they are adaptations. Perhaps that is why the majority of Christian media is so mediocre. Christians are always attempting to simply regurgitate the story in different mediums (adaptation) instead of bringing the audience deeper and provide a deeper understanding of the story (transmedia). That's besides the point but an interesting topic in itself.

But in some ways, the whole subject of Transmedia is starting to wear a bit thin with me now. I was excited when I gave a talk about it at CEVMA earlier this year, but ultimately, is it really that important? All the peripheral add-on stories around one main story - does it really entertain you? More importantly does it add to your understanding of the main story?

I adore Doctor Who. Despite that I never go on the Doctor Who website and I am not interested in any sideline stories that go on alongside it.

There is a part of me that wonders if everyone isn't simply jumping on the Transmedia bandwagon just because it is new and different.

In fact the concept is not that new at all.

The Greeks developed an entire culture (let alone story world) built around Greek Mythology. Transmedia: Facets of their mythology, woven into their plays, songs and statues. You might class those mediums as adaptations...but it did develop the story world and it wasn't always a simple retelling of the same story...

So my verdict? Hype. I think transmedia has its place but I'm sure that place is better than a publicity stunt...