Transmedia, what on earth is this omnipresent quizzical sounding media category? Well it’s actually much simpler than it sounds. Transmedia is when one collective story or information about a fictional universe is spread out over different forms of multimedia. Usually there is an “entry point” where people who are new to that story or universe learn the basic outline, and of course if they get really into it they can learn more about the story by engaging in the other media types which expand the story significantly and create a single overarching story.
There are many examples of transmedia, probably most notably of which is Harry Potter and the ever expanding Pottermore website. However I will confess I am not as hardcore a Harry Potter fan as some and as such I have little idea how Pottermore adds to the HP universe. I am however versed in the universe of Kingdom Hearts, a video game released in 2002 for the Playstation 2, the entry point of which would be Kingdom Hearts 1 and later in 2005 Kingdom Hearts 2. However there are now 8 separate games spanning the PS2, 3, Vita and DS.
These additional games obviously provide further knowledge into the KH universe for those fanboys and girls who want detailed knowledge behind elements of the main 2 games. EVEN AFTER these additional 6 games there are more avenues to gain knowledge behind the main storyline and universe, there’s the Manga series, a mobile social game, and even a game exclusively playable at the Tokyo Game Show (home of the KH series). Oh and just in case you wanted to be super hardcore, the Japanese release of the second game had extended content and a teaser trailer at the end of the game foretelling the third game’s development.
Now if we’re working of the textbook definition of transmedia technically the manga and change of media platform from Playstation 2 to comic is what makes the manga transmedia, but in my opinion the side games that aren’t apart of the main 2 games’ storyline are what makes those games transmedia. Now if that isn’t some serious fandom-ing going on I don’t know what is. Bear in mind this is a video game no where near as popular as something like Harry Potter or Game of Thrones. Personally I find it baffling that a game with less fans/followers than something as large as Game of Thrones has more transmedia content, this just goes to show the difference in the type of audience each media platform receives.
Below are some links to the examples of transmedia I used above and some more that might interest you. I’m interested if you think that transmedia and an expanded, explorable universe behind a story makes the story more enticing to you as a reader or part of the audience? Or do you just prefer one story, one set path of detail and no other kind of extended back story of the fictional world?