According to Henry Jenkins, transmedia or multiplatform storytelling represents a process whereby elements of a fiction story get dispersed across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of enhancing the entertainment experience, each medium making its own unique contribution to the unfolding of the story.
For example, the ABC Television series Lost utilises transmedia storytelling to extend the narrative of their show. Lost uses many different mediums to do this, including: mini webisodes, maps, blogs, reference sites, and even a Lost video game. The video game, Lost: Via Domus takes the plot of the show a little further by switching up the perspective of the events in the original show. This is achieved by the creation of a new character (who is not in the series) and allowing for players/viewers of the game to interact with the setting of the show and the original characters through the perspective of this alternative character.
Lost is only one example amongst many media franchises that use multiplatform storytelling, others include:
- The Matrix
- Star Wars
- Star Trek
- The Blair Witch Project
- Harry Potter
- Indiana Jones
- The Hunger Games
And the list goes on…
Acccording to Kevin Moloney, Star Wars was the first real introduction to transmedia storytelling, and is the biggest and best known. Originally beginning with the films in 1977, TV Series, books, comics, video games, music, action figures, radio programs and endless merchandise followed, intending only to maximize profits. These extensions, however, helped encourage fan immersion and involvement. Unintentionally, George Lucas set the stage for a highly successful transmedia franchise.
Yeah, sure George, that’s why you’re doing it…
It’s not about the money at all…
These examples demonstrate the convergence of how standard blockbusters can become global franchises through the dynamics of content distribution. I know that I, myself, and probably many others, find it far more enjoyable to be able to explore a movie or television series further with other content to indulge in, and when I’m really hooked, I’m willing to spend the money to allow me to do so.