That beautiful feeling of discovering our favourite show or movie has a video game, podcast, book or even interactive music video.
They’re called transmedia and multimedia narratives, not the feeling, but the phenomenon.
Who’s That Narrative?
A multimedia narrative is when a work of fiction is duplicated across multiple forms of media.
A notable example of a multimedia narrative is Harry Potter. Harry Potter, from the novel series written by J.K.Rowling has spawned a series of successful movies and games. Across each of these media platforms, the Harry Potter story is the same. The benefit of this is that it allows fans of the franchise to consume the content more than once.
Another concept becoming more and more common in modern times is transmedia narratives.
“Transmedia storytelling represents 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.” (Jenkins, 2007)
Jenkins is defining transmedia narratives as being individual parts of a fictional world spread across multiple media platforms to form one whole ‘universe’. This allows a ‘universe’ to be accessed through various different mediums so as to appeal to a broader range of audience sectors. Incorporating the positives of mulitmedia narratives while adding volume to the content for the user as well as giving the user the ability to directly interact with the content, ultimately giving “the people formerly known as the audience” (Rosen, 2006).
A popular example is ‘The Matrix’. The story of The Matrix spans across games, anime series, movies and books. To fully understand the entire story, one has to have experienced the story from each medium. The benefit of this is that it allows fans of the franchise to experience more of The Matrix universe and interacting with the medium changes the message , allowing users to affect how they view the fictional universe.
What? Media Is Evolving.
Music has evolved in various ways over time. It’s developed music videos, interactivity and even interactive music videos. For example, Arcade Fire’s ‘We Used To Wait’ is a song with an interactive video that was an experiment collaboration with Google and the bands producers that uses Google maps and interactive popup windows to allow the viewer/listener to change how the music video plays.
“Arcade Fire- We Used To Wait (The Wilderness Downtown Full Experiment HD)” (Click here to view in Youtube)
This interactivity gives the audience more to ‘use’, hence allowing for a greater audience span.
Following the growth of transmedia narratives, ‘Pop Cosmopolitans have risen. Jenkins defines a Pop Cosmopolitan as;
“Someone whose embrace of global popular media represents an escape route out of the parochialism of her local community” (Jenkins, 2006)
Global popular media generally refers to content from another culture, such as, anime from Japan or, European or Asian music. Pop Cosmopolitans that follow foreign pop media are often subject to more transmedia content than others.
The popular game franchise, Pokemon is a good example. Originating in Japan, Pokemon’s content varies in other countries. The games explosive popularity led to the sprouting of a popular anime series, a plethora of movies and a trading card game, just to name a few. In America alone the franchise is a transmedia narrative but when expanding to Japans content, the narrative deepens to more content that never left japan.
Looks Like Media Is Blasting Off Again.
As content producers continue to find new ways to reach larger sectors of audience, transmedia narratives will get more creative but Pop Cosmopolitanism will fade if it doesn’t adapt as content is becoming less culture specific.