Transmedia storytelling

Transmedia storytelling

Transmedia Storytelling (also known as Multi-platform/Cross-platform Storytelling or Transmedia Narratives) is the technique of telling stories across multiple platforms and formats using current digital technologies. It is not to be confused with traditional cross-platform media franchises,[1] sequels or adaptations.

From a production standpoint, it involves creating content[2] that engages an audience using various techniques to permeate their daily lives.[3] In order to achieve this engagement, a Transmedia production will develop stories across multiple forms of media in order to deliver unique pieces of content over multiple channels. Importantly, these pieces of content are not only linked together (overtly or subtly), but are in narrative sync with each other.


Academic Discussion

In 1991, then USC University Professor, Marsha Kinder coined the term for this form of storytelling calling franchises that use such a model "commercial transmedia supersystems". She went on to say “transmedia intertextuality works to position consumers as powerful players while disavowing commercial manipulation.”[4] In 2003, then MIT media studies professor, Henry Jenkins used the term in his Technology Review article, "Transmedia Storytelling," where he reflected that the coordinated use of storytelling across platforms can make the characters more compelling.[5]


With the advent of mainstream Internet usage in the 1990's, numerous creatives began to explore ways to tell stories and entertain audiences using new platforms. Early examples took the form of what was to become known as Alternate Reality Games, which took place in real-time with a mass audience. These included, but were not limited to:

  • Dreadnot[6], a web game published on in 1998. The game included working voice mail phone numbers for characters, clues in the source code, character email addresses, off-site websites, and real locations in San Francisco.
  • FreakyLinks (link to archived project at end of article)
  • The Blair Witch Project
  • The Beast
  • Majestic

See also: List of alternate reality games

Current State

As of 2011, both traditional and dedicated transmedia entertainment studios are beginning to embrace Transmedia Storytelling techniques in search of a new storytelling form that is native to networked digital content and communication channels. Developing technologies have enabled projects to now begin to include single-player experiences in addition to real-time multiplayer experiences such as Alternate Reality Games. While the list of current and recent projects is too extensive to list here, some notable examples of transmedia storytelling include:

  • Slide, a native transmedia experience for Fox8 TV in Australia.
  • Eagle Eye Free Fall, a promotional project for the feature film Eagle Eye.
  • Breathe, an independent transmedia feature film.
  • Cathy's Book, a transmedia novel by Sean Stewart.
  • International Mime Academy, a 10-minute experience designed to showcase transmedia storytelling techniques.
  • Year Zero, a transmedia project by Nine Inch Nails.
  • Speakeasy Dollhouse, a transmedia project by [1] Cynthia von Buhler, investigates the 1935 murder of her grandfather through graphic novels, an immersive play, and a stop-motion film.
  • ReGenesis, a Canadian television series with a real-time transmedia (alternate reality game) extension that took place in sync with the episodes as they aired.
  • Angel Punk, a transmedia project by Relium Media, tells the story of angels turned mortal through a series of comic books, a novel, film, games and a fan engagement website.

See also


  1. ^ Jenkins, Henry (August 1, 2011). "Transmedia 202: Further Reflections". Confessions of an AcaFan. 
  2. ^ [|Pratten, Robert] (2011). Getting Started in Transmedia Storytelling: A Practical Guide for Beginners (Paperback). London, UK: CreateSpace. pp. 106. ISBN 9781456564681. 
  3. ^ Bernardo, Nuno (2011). The Producers Guide to Transmedia: How to Develop, Fund, Produce and Distribute Compelling Stories Across Multiple Platforms (Paperback). London, UK: beActive Books. pp. 153. ISBN 9780956750006. 
  4. ^ Kinder, Marsha (1991). Playing with Power in Movies, Television, and Video Games: From Muppet Babies to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Berkeley and Los Angeles, California: University of California Press. pp. 38, 119. ISBN 9780520075702. 
  5. ^ Jenkins, Henry (January 15, 2003). "Transmedia Storytelling". Technology Review. Retrieved December 2, 2010. 
  6. ^ "Dreadnot". SFGate. Archived from the original on 2000-02-29. 

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