What Transmedia Storytelling is Not

Transmedia story telling is not simply multimedia.  Multimedia has come to be thought of as the kind of educational material one buys on a CD Rom.  In the 1990’s the name MultiMedia came to be thought of as this kind of packaged product.  This is not a description  of Transmedia with its multilayered and multi-entry points.   The Web has diminished the importance of multimedia now as often it is easier to access this kind of information from sources straight across the web,  A Creator’s Guide to Transmedia Storytelling.

Not Just Interactive Fiction

So then – is it just Interactive Fiction?  The answer again is that this name has been thought of and become synonymous with computer games such as Zork or Moonmist.  This is not what we are talking about and the discussion would become very confused if readers thought that this is all that is meant.

Don’t confuse the name Transmedia with Cross Media either because what that means (to those who work in the trade) is the practice of releasing the same content in a variety of media and file forms.

Alternate reality games are also a little less “off the mark” but again the interactivity and context is different.

A Definition of Transmedia

Let’s at least for now accept this lose definition of Transmedia put forward by Dr. Henry Jenkins.  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 its own unique contribution to the unfolding of the story.

The process is about fragmentation.  Either you take a story and splinter it across multiple media, or you start with one story and keep adding pieces onto it ad infinitum.

Transmedia and a Sense of the Gestalt

Both of these processes will result in projects that can be described with phrases like “greater than the sum of the parts” and “a single cohesive story”

On page 18, Phillips goes on to discuss this phenomenon by comparing the storytelling process to a jigsaw.   Jigsaws can be small or large and difficult or easy. They can engage participants for a very long time or some can represent a quick, easy process.

The jigsawing process is always accessed with similar behaviours.  Whether a jigsaw consists of over a thousand pieces or whether it is made up of only a few;  you still can’t see the whole picture by looking at a single piece.  Even when the jigsaw has discreet pieces that look like objects from within the gestalt, all pieces need to be assembled so that the viewer can see the whole scene.   Phillips suggest that even if each piece was in the form of a cow or a pig you still wouldn’t see the farm until each piece was snapped into place.,

 Jigsaws, Transmedia and Full Inclusion

This makes both the jigsaw and Transmedia ideal for the classroom.   This is what one way of thinking about the old maxim The Medium is the Message.

When teaching using the framework provided in Global Citizens Creative Arts Text, keep the metaphor of a jigsaw as a representation of what it means to be a class uppermost in your mind.  For the length of time the class will remain together have the students think of their  class and its community cohesion in the same way that one would think of a jigsaw.

When doing a jigsaw…

  • How do you feel when one piece is missing?
  • Does a missing piece cause the meaning and the functionality to changed?
  • What does it feel like when all of the pieces have been snapped snuggly into place?
  • What of that “blank” piece? The piece that is only blue sky or white cloud? Does it have its place too? What place does it serve?

This way of thinking about multiplicity of perspectives with emergent property is what inspired Jacobs Process.  Until the book is released it is enough to realize that we are using Gestalt ideas to set the pretext for emergence of a unified culture of learning.  As we work through the ideas and propositions, readers will see that a background framework from which an eClisp is structured.

I have listed some relevant books below.


Global Citizens Art

4 thoughts on “What Transmedia Storytelling is Not

  1. Pingback: Transmedia Storytelling Takes Particpants On A More Engaging Travel

  2. Pingback: Lioness of Social Media Marketing | How to Slice the Transmedia Narrative Arc

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