Transmedia Storytelling: An Exploration in Fiction
With this dependence on digital forms of content and communication colliding with the emergence of transmedia production companies, will we see an increase in transmedia fiction content? The average American citizen now utilizes a variety of media platforms in their average day. Will this lead to the emergence of transmedia fiction storytelling popularity?
(I’m not referring to content categorized as ARGs . I’m interested more in interactive content deriving from the continuity of traditional, linear, paperback novels.)
Marsha Kinder coined the phrase “transmedia storytelling” in 1991. Since that time, transmedia projects have manifested in the worlds of marketing, ARGs, fiction, etc.
Transmedia. is a hot topic among interactive media field members, and a variety of transmedia production companies have emerged in the past couple years.
It’s difficult to categorize transmedia works into the assortment of proposed genres.
Henry Jenkins, a former MIT Professor, defines transmedia storytelling as “a process where integral elements of a fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels.” For the purpose of this research, I will focus on what I consider to be transmedia fiction storytelling. (eg Cathy’s Book published by Cathy Briggs in 1996)
If you ask the average citizen to define transmedia, they most likely will not be able to give content examples. However, human dependence on digital outlets for content and communication has grown significantly in the past year. Twitter’s use has risen 82% since the beginning of the year, now boasting 100 million active users. Also, Amazon’s Kindle content now outsells their paperback content. I believe human digital dependence and the emergence of transmedia companies, such as 42 Entertainment, will lead to new transmedia fiction storytelling popularity.
Therefore, I will examine the theory behind why human beings have an affinity for fiction storytelling, and I will determine whether this same affinity applies to transmedia fiction storytelling. I will also attempt to project whether our digital reliance and expectations of interactivity will contribute to a greater number of said novels in the near future.
Social Theories Engagement:
The Narrative Paradigm
The Narrative Paradigm suggests that human beings are open to judging the credibility of speakers through narrative logic. Proposed by Walter Fisher, this theory may give context behind why fiction storytelling has been a popular source of entertainment throughout history because it states that human beings have an affinity towards comprehending all forms of communication as narratives.
This theory may contribute to my analysis of why the book industry has been so lucrative. Further, it may support why transmedia fiction storytelling might take on comparable popularity.
Uses and Gratification Theory
The Uses and Gratification Theory focuses on the audience, or consumer, as opposed to message or product. In my research, I can use this theory to examine how the interaction of individuals with books, as media, correlates with their interaction with the same content in a digital form. Examining how gratification is gained by each media source to fulfill audience expectations, I can also use this theory to examine how transmedia fiction storytelling can add to interactivity and contribute to gratification as well.
For this research, I will draw information from an assortment of studies including social science, consumer behavior, media studies, etc. I will use this research to create context as to why human beings have an affinity for fiction storytelling, in the form of novels. I will then examine how/if the emergence of digital dependence will lead to increased poularity of transmedia fiction storytelling.
I will examine how its interactivity may contribute to popularity and attempt to provide research on production/sales of current transmedia fiction storytelling ventures. I may create a group study, creating surveys for feedback on user gratification after experiencing a transmedia fiction storytelling piece. I may also interview current authors of fiction and question whether they see the continuity between their media and transmedia fiction storytelling.
Novelty and outcomes:
Transmedia storytelling has been academically discussed since Marsha Kinder coined the term in 1991. There have been few transmedia fiction story pieces that have gained recognition, but I believe we are now entering an age where this media form can take flight. I believe the digital dependence, as shown with my examples, indicates a new age of consumer expectations.
The digital age has reached a point where media may overwhelm. I believe interactivity is the optimal means to reach the consumer, and I will analyze my research and predict the role transmedia fiction storyteling will play in our future.