Do you know what Transmedia Storytelling is? Even if you have never heard this term, you probably know several cases of such storytelling: The Matrix, Star Wars, Marvel, Game of Thrones, … These universes were all developed through multiple media that are continuously consumed by millions of people on the planet. Think of the movies that people watch, but also of the video games, figurines or other artefacts like Iron Man mugs.
What is Transmedia Storytelling and what is its purpose?
The terms Transmedia and Transmedia Narratives refer to a set of narrative strategies endowed through different media. Transmedia narratives are acquiring increasing influence in communication processes and in mass culture, emerging as one of the trends with the greatest projection, both from a creative point of view as from a commercial one. Universes like Star Wars, The Matrix and Marvel have been developed through multiple media such as movies, comic books, video games and cartoons, which all participate in telling the multiple stories that are part of these universes. Producers of such content are moving the emphasis from storytelling to story-making by intricately connecting multiple elements that could also just exist by themselves. This kind of storytelling encourages the audience to engage more personally with the content.
Why is Transmedia Storytelling important?
By their very nature, Transmedia narratives place us before a more open and flexible type of content, which flows through different platforms and languages, generating complex narrative universes. It serves to extend the life cycle of creative content, reach, maintain and expand audiences, design interactive proposals and generate higher economic returns. For example, many people expect several spin-offs from the famous Games of Thrones TV show because it would enable the audience to interact with the content for longer and generate additional profit.
Successfully implemented by the great Hollywood franchises or by television series producers, these productions motivate the participation of users, generating relationships that are maintained in the long term and turn the story into an object with a life of its own. In the words of Transmedia Storytelling father, Henry Jenkins: “The current configuration of the entertainment industry makes transmedia expansion an economic imperative […]“.
How do you make a transmedia story?
Transmedia story-making is a true art that is difficult to master. It requires graphic representations of the basic building blocks of the universe. These graphic representations will help you to structure the different storylines, how they are related and who the stakeholders are. Then, you will need to create ‘mystery boxes’. These fictive boxes are narrative questions to which the audience does not have a direct answer; you can use them to connect your universe through different media. Finally, you have to foster the active engagement of the audience through different media (social platforms, fan pages, …). Mystery boxes can help with that as they draw the attention of your audience.
One of the main challenges is to create content that people can enjoy without the wider context of the story’s universe, while also grabbing the attention of individuals who are actively interacting with other stories from the same universe. For example, the Marvel movies were difficult to make partly because each movie had to be coherent on its own while also remaining attractive as a part of the entire series.
Transmedia Storytelling creates stories that, instead of being one-way streets, become interactive environments that create long-lasting relationships with the audience.
If want to become an expert in Transmedia Storytelling, there are numerous schools, such as Universidad Europea, that offer relevant programmes in communication and story-making. Check out our website and blog to find the best fit for you and learn about tips and tricks to prepare for your studies.