Transmedia & User-Generated Conent

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Transmedia is the unfolding of a story across multiple devices to create a unique and interactive entertainment experience. Stories that utilize transmedia often have expansive fictional worlds with multiple characters whose stories are explained through various formats (Henry Jenkins, 2007). A common example of transmedia is the franchise The Matrix. There were three movies about a futuristic world in which a man saves our word, also there were video games which further expanded The Matrix universe and gave us back stories of characters (they weren’t in the franchise movies but still a part of The Matrix universe). The creators also created graphic novels and teamed up with animators to create The Animatrix which gave a deeper history of The Matrix (John Paul Henderson). Fans were able to explore the world of The Matrix, not just through the movies, but through other mediums such as video games, books and animated short films.

Henry Jenkins (2007) states (in reference to the TV series Lost) “Consumers become hunters and gatherers moving back across the various narratives trying to stitch together a coherent picture from the dispersed information.” Upon reading that statement, I was reminded of a promotion by Scottish electronic duo, Boards of Canada, earlier this year. They used different delivery channels and formats that would lead fans to discover specific digits. When all found and entered on a matrix-style website, fans would find the groups new albums details. At first a code was found on a recording in the UK; then there was a 1 minute advertisement on Cartoon Networks Adult Swim in the United States with audio of more digits, the remaining digits were found on online communities and various websites. To me, this was an excellent example of using transmedia for advertising a product.

User-generated content I believe is vital to the progression of our technoculture. The community is actively a part of how a brand can be altered, maintained, created and desired all through UGC. Rather than media being designed at us, we now have a voice so that a product/video game/movie can be designed for us. Christodoulides, Jevons, Bonhomme (2012) explain that the democracy of the internet and users’ contributions are defining media content. “Influence has been shifting from manager-generated content toward key opinion leaders in the customer base for many years, furthering the shift from a conventional publisher-centric media model to a more user-centric model.”

I have seen transmedia at work in video games, with franchises such as Grand Theft Auto. In GTA IV, users entered the city of Liberty City. Not only did we have the main story line, but also we could explore the city online as our own customisable character. A year after GTA IV was released on XBOX (2 years after for PS3), Rockstar North released two expansion packs The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony. These two expansions were complete games, which followed two different main characters. Both were also set in Liberty City and at times interconnected with the original GTA IV characters but we were able to see the city from a different point of view, giving the game and GTA world more substance. As Jenkins (2007) says “Transmedia stories are based not on individual characters or specific plots but rather complex fictional worlds which can sustain multiple interrelated characters and their own stories.” In the latest GTA franchise, GTA V, I have noticed further use of transmedia by incorporating an actual application that users can download to their smart phones. This allows users to modify simple things such as number plates, train their pet etc. They maybe away from the console but they are still a part of the GTA world connected via a different device.

References

Christodoulides, G., Jevons, C., & Bonhomme, J. (2012). Memo to marketers: Quantitative evidence for change. how user-generated content really affects brands. Journal of Advertising Research, 52(1), 53-64.

Grand Theft Auto IV. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved October 14, 2013, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gta_iv

Henderson, J. P. Transmedia: Interactive becoming immersive., 2013, from http://www.criticalcommons.org/Members/CTCS505/lectures/transmedia-interactive-becoming-immersive

Jenkins, H. (2007). Transmedia storytelling 101. Retrieved 2013http://henryjenkins.org/2007/03/transmedia_storytelling_101.html

Vogel, M (2013). Transmedia-flowchart3.jpg [image]. Retrieved from http://thisistransmedia.com/2013/05/flowchart-is-this-transmedia/

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