Transmedia Storytelling Part 1

Posted by on Dec 7, 2013 in Storytelling
Transmedia Storytelling Part 1

Introduction to Transmedia Storytelling



  • different types of media present individual stories, which as a whole, make up a larger story world
  • NOT adapting an existing story to a different type of media

Transmedia Pattern(Storymooc 2013 University of Applied Sciences Potsdam)

Applying the idea of franchising, e.g. a trilogy of books into transmedia storytelling could be:

  • Prequel – Webseries
  • Main Event – a Movie
  • Sequel –  Game

Examples: Star Wars, Harry Potter, … Therefore the audience experiences an increasing satisfaction.


ALTERNATE REALITY GAMES (another form of transmedia storytelling)

  • take one particular story (break it down into story parts such as scenes or beats ) and try to expand it across platforms

Examples: The Dark Knight ARG – by Warner Bros. and 42 Entertainment to promote the second Batman movie “The Dark Knight”



Portmanteau vs. Franchise Transmedia


FRANCHISE Transmedia

different stories of the same storyworld spread across multiple media platforms


Expanding one single story across different media

For further information have a look at Robert Pratten, Getting started in Transmedia Storytelling


e.gInside (2011) a social film thriller by Intel & Toshiba.

It’s about a kidnapped woman called Christina, who is trapped in a room only having a laptop with an internet connection. Not knowing where she is or why she is being held, she uses it to mobilize her social network in order to escape. Viewers are encouraged to connect with her, tweet clues and post advice to her Facebook page. Thereby the audience play a role as how the story develops.


e.g. The Night Vision Experiment a real live online performance mostly via Twitter and Youtube.

[Source: Playthisnext]


  • It is not about convincing the audience that the story is real, but rather to make them “want to believe” it.
  • it is sufficient for transmedia storytellers to concentrate on those platforms directly relevant for their story



How to create a transmedia project?

USER EXPERIENCE is even more challenging and relevant in transmedia storytelling than when writing a book:

  • Who is our audience?
  • What technology do they have available?
  • How much time do they have available?
  • What is the pacing?
  • What is the benefit of using different platforms?

In order to create an IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCE the storyteller needs to think about how the audience interprets and reacts to it.


Furthermore Robert Pratten thinks that a lot of current “second screen apps” that accompany TV shows are:

  • used to distract the experiencer from the otherwise dull content being presented on the TV screen
  • designed under the misconception that user like to tune in to live-shows


Compared to the reason of the success of AAA Games:

  • Audience’s intrinsic motivation – MASTERY, CONTROL and CONNECTION



Alternate Reality Games – ARGs

ARG concept(Storymooc 2013 University of Applied Sciences Potsdam)

  • portmanteau transmedia
  • story pushes the border between reality & fiction
  • certain time frame with a defined start & end date
  • parts inbetween take place in the real or digital world

The 5 most insane alternate reality games  


How do they tell stories?

  • PUPPET MASTER – a team who organize the story
  • STORY ARC – split story into parts which are transferred to multiple media formats ( Website,Video, Chats, Post,… )
  • RABBIT HOLE – the inventation; to attract players to get into the story ( literally like Alice in Wonderland )
  • INTERACTION between puppet master and players (pm regulates story and its clues, he can even include ideas from player to broaden the story experience)
  • TINAG – This Is Not A Game concept ( to distinguish the immersive experience )

Overall Structure:

  • Preplotted story – Puppet Master plot the story arcs
  • Milestones/Plotpoints – by following these the player gets pieces of the story arc


e.g. Cloverfield ARG


Further Resources:

Jane McGonigal (ARG Creator/Theorist)

Alternate Reality Gaming Network