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 – Henry Jenkins (2007)
This week started off with a discussion on Participatory Culture and Transmedia Storytelling after watching Henry Jenkin’s Ted Talk. I was intrigued by the way he compared the three phases of technological development and agree on the importance of media flowing in and out of virtual web worlds (TEDx Talks, 2010).
Whilst he did focus strongly on the world of super heroes and politicians in his talk, I found his key concepts were still applicable across a broad range of fictional entertainment experiences.
- Spreadability vs. drillability
- Continuity vs. multiplicity
- Immersion vs. extractability
- World Building
When thinking about how I have been involved or impacted by a transmedia storytelling campaign that uses these concepts, the first thing that came to mind was the Hunger Games.
As a fan from the book release, not only have I watched producers transform the series from page to screen, but build a very convincing virtual world around it.
A Facebook organisation was made for the ‘revolution’ of the people against their oppressive government, with posts promoting their point of view as if the Hunger Games were real. In the screenshot below, you can even see Facebook users comment on the effectiveness and believability of the ‘illusion.’ In relation to Jenkin’s key concepts, ‘spreadability’ is evident here with the page attracting over 600 thousand ‘likes/followers’ contributing to the conversation and sharing with their friends (Jenkins, 2007).
In 2012, a ‘luxury clothing line’ called Capitol Couture was released as another viral marketing campaign for the Hunger Games films. The line featured 16 outrageous pieces from high-end fashion designers such as Alexander McQueen, Trish Summerville and Dior inspired by the fashion trends of Panem’s rich and privileged (Asher-Perrin et al., 2013). Accompanied by news feeds and blogs (http://74th.capitolcouture.pn and http://capitolcouture.pn) this campaign truly took transmedia world building to a whole new level in the film industry and will be relaunching the line soon, in anticipation of the last Hunger Games film release.
In 2013, in partnership with Internet Explorer, the producers launched a website for fans of the series called ‘The Hunger Games Explorer’:
The social and interactive elements of this platform definitely fell within Jenkin’s realm of ‘drillability’ as it gave fans the opportunity to delve deep into the world of the Hunger Games with each other.
And finally the websites:
As seen in the screenshots above, the engaging transmedia campaigns just never end. A narrative is told as the capitol webpage loads… the screen flickers.. glitches and then suddenly the face of the revolution – Katniss Everdeen floods the page as the governments servers appear to be ‘hacked.’ It is quite a performance, particularly coming from a ‘fake’ government webpage overthrown by a ‘fake’ revolution.
Reflecting back upon the multitude of platforms in which the Hunger Games has used to build a world around the film series, I believe they have set a high standard for future viral transmedia campaigns. As an interactive design student with great interest around web user interface design, the Hunger Games campaigns continue to inspire me. As a fan of the series, I look forward to seeing what they come up with next!
Asher-Perrin, E., Rocket, S. the, Sweepstakes, DeCandido, K. and Horseman, H. (2013) Is the Capitol Couture Clothing Line Sending the Wrong Message to Hunger Games Fans? Available at: http://www.tor.com/2013/09/18/is-the-capitol-couture-clothing-line-sending-the-wrong-message-to-hunger-games-fans/ (Accessed: 25 October 2015).
TEDx Talks. (2010). TEDxNYED – Henry Jenkins – 03/06/10. [Online Video]. 13 April. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AFCLKa0XRlw. [Accessed: 13 October 2015].
The Official Weblog of Henry Jenkins. 2007. Transmedia Storytelling 101. [ONLINE] Available at: http://henryjenkins.org/2007/03/transmedia_storytelling_101.html. [Accessed 18 October 15].