Transmedia narratives are described by Henry Jenkins as: “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.” Essentially it’s giving the audience other points of contact and engagement with the story- which in my view, is a pretty excellent way to franchise and the future of entertainment.
Funnily enough, I grew up with transmedia narratives – in fact my whole generation did; yes the dreaded Gen Y. From young ages, we were able to interact with the story through different mediums which took our entertainment experience to a whole new level. What made this change so revolutionary? The gaming console, the computer, and the wider web!
Take Harry Potter for example. Lucky little me got to log on the very first Harry Potter website when I was 6 years old! Through this website (created by Warner Bros), I became part of the Hogwarts universe: I was sorted into a house by The Sorting Hat, Olivander chose me a wand and I could play Quidditch with other online users – and this was in 2000! Now, with the 7 books and 8 movies completed, the magic has still not left Hogwarts and the market is still well and truly there, a new website was launched last year in conjunction with Sony and J.K. Rowling. The site tells the same story of Harry potter and Hogwarts, but creates a different and ongoing experience for Potter fans.
In terms of facts and figures, the website was a huge success generating 36 million unique visitors, 3.5 billion page impressions and 158 million + spells casted and potions created in less than six months from the launch date. However, after reading a couple of reviews, it seems that the Pottermore experience is pretty lack lustre.
Different types of transmedia stories are unfolding and becoming increasingly accessible to people of all generations. So long as you have an internet connection and a computer or smart phone, you can become part of a larger universe. For example The Lost experience employed the idea of collective intelligence in order to piece together the puzzle of the TV show. Henry Jenkins describes the link between transmedia narratives and collective intelligence:“Transmedia storytelling is the ideal aesthetic form for an era of collective intelligence… art in the age of collective intelligence functions as a cultural attraction, drawing together like-minded individuals to form new knowledge communities”
One transmedia narrative I was particularly looking forward to unfolding was Monsters University, a sequel to the much beloved movie of my childhood Monsters Inc.
Disney Pixar had it pegged perfectly. In 2001 the box office hit Monsters Inc was released, I was 7 years old and in my second year of primary school, In June 2013, when the upcoming sequel is released I will be half way through completing my first year of University. My point? They have targeted the audience of this film to the whole of Generation Y. Not only that, Disney Pixar set up an extensive interactive website that looked exactly like your regular universities page.
Pretty sweet right? Even down to the Twitter page. In an attempt to create the Monsters University transmedia tale, something must have fallen short, where you should have been able to enrol as a student on the MU website, they failed to provide the opportunity. Even though the movie’s release is just over a month away. The Facebook page that has been set up with real college like anecdotes with the potential to interact with me as a student has now fallen victim to one way advertising of the actual movie.
I was pretty peeved so I sent them this Tweet:
Monsters University, started, but then it looks like forgot to put fuel in the car and it died, like a poor University student’s attempt at study.