I was looking for an answer. It’s the question that drives us, Neo. It’s the question that brought you here. You know the question, just as I did.
The answer is out there, Neo, and it’s looking for you, and it will find you if you want it to.
Buuuuuuuuuut, if you can’t find out the answer on your own, Henry Jenkins will help you out. In Transmedia Storytelling 101, Jenkins defines Transmedia as “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.”
I like to think of transmedia in two parts: The ‘media’ component implies entertainment. The ‘trans’ part implies engagement. Therefore, transmedia = engagement of entertainment.
What were once distinct media industries, have now become integrated by the investment of modern media companies in all avenues of medium. Aha! Convergence!
What transmedia does is create multiple points of entry into the story by creating content over multiple platforms. Initially transmedia targets a wide spectrum of entertainment markets but even more effectively, creates a total immersion experience for the audience. This not only encourages audience interaction but generates a number of revenue streams making it an effective tool of profit.
Whether you’ve watched it, read it, played it, heard the film soundtrack or are just perpetually confused by it, chances are that you know about the Matrix. (If you don’t, then please educate yo’ self)
The Matrix is a great example of transmedia because it demonstrates the way the content across multiple medium requires consumers to take an active role in its fictional world. With films, an animé series, comics and a whole bunch of video games it would be easy to assume that a multitude of people have a great understanding of what the hell is actually going on in the whole story, but as Jenkins describes ‘key bits of information are conveyed through three live action films, a series of animated shorts, two collections of comic book stories, and several video games. There is no one single source where one can turn to gain all of the information needed to comprehend the Matrix universe.’
So, what the Matrix franchise demonstrates is the power of transmedia in enabling prosumer culture.
Transmedia not only has the power to affect media cultures, but is a product of globalisation and more specifically, global convergent media. It is about engagement on a global scale and about creating a plethora of entertainment to be immersed in as opposed to a single entertainment experience.
The wonder of transmedia is that it always leaves more to be discovered, and recognises that there is no ‘one’ universal means of entertainment.
Jenkins, H. (2007) ‘Transmedia Storytelling 101’, http://henryjenkins.org/2007/03/transmedia_storytelling_101.html