Transmedia – Pokémon

The early years of the manifestation of transmedia storytelling were around the 1990’s; these included the film The Blair Witch Project and the web game Dreadnot.

The second biggest video game-based media franchise in the world, Pokémon, shows us very visibly the effective way that transmedia is used. It began simply as a video game but soon the story turned to books, films, an anime series and, possibly most significantly, trading cards. By purchasing these trading cards, consumers were able to be actively involved in the game and in a way, determine the outcome of the direction the story of Pokémon would take through the cards that they chose to trade with others. This is now also available to do online; with a section on the website giving tutorials based on what level of skill you have …

By using these different platforms of media, it allows the audience to be interactive in numerous ways; perhaps ways which they may have not before been introduced to and therefore expanding their interaction with the story, they can feel as though they have a role and can make a difference in the story interface. The expectations of the audience are based upon the original video game format of the first Pokémon that was produced; however, since this franchise has developed into so much more, the audience’s outlook on the game as a whole has further developed and they expect to be surprised and shown new ways to continue with the adventures that come with the story.

The thought of further extending Pokémon to even more platforms would not be necessary as it already covers the majority of them, even on social network sites, for example the Pokémon TV show Facebook page has over 291,000 ‘likes’. The vast amount of other video games that are around and with the introduction of things such as the Wii and Xbox which have both gained massive success through the games that they deliver, it would be easy to think that it could be difficult for Pokémon to sustain in the industry up against such large competition. However, due to the history of the franchise I think it will be a very long time until the fad dies out.

At the height of Pokémon’s success, it was having such a huge impact on society, in particular, on young children, that it was banned in numerous schools for having a bad influence on their behaviour … Even though transmedia is effective in commercially selling Pokémon, the repercussions of this on the audience who are actively a part of it, came off negatively for this period of time.

Pokémon created a need, the multi-facet nature of this narrative encouraged children to buy countless trading cards, video games, movies and television series so that they could “fill the gaps” in this boundless story. (Luke Freeman)

The game allows this audience to play inside the large multi-platform narrative work. It has come to fit the definition of transmedia storytelling as it has stemmed from a video game and bought a whole other world surrounding it; through social interaction, physical and online game playing, Pokémon is, in my opinion, one of the greatest examples of modern day transmedia story telling.

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Transmedia – A Map Of The Floating City

Bringing music into the world of transmedia storytelling can be difficult; being established as a band or a musician is one thing, but to then spread that onto further platforms brings with it difficulties. One good example of an artist that successfully did this however, is Thomas Dolby, famous for his synth pop music of the early-80’s new wave … For his 2010 album A Map Of The Floating City, which was divided up into three separate sections, Dolby decided to release all of these parts individually; the first was released digitally for download, then was the second and then the third and final part of the album was premiered online as part of the Map Of The Floating City game. This brought his music onto a new media platform helping to promote and at the same time distribute this third part of his album.

The Floating City is set against a dystopian vision of the 1940s that might have existed had WWII turned out a lot differently … survivors explore a fictional Google map, forming tribes and trading relics amid a bizarre sea-going barter society. As they struggle to unravel the enigma that is the Floating City, players can haggle over merchandise and music downloads — including brand-new songs from A Map of the Floating City.

This was Dolby’s first album in 20 years, so perhaps the idea to link an online multiplayer transmedia game was a conscious decision of his. His audience, who would have been his fan base from previous years of record making, were introduced to this game as a challenge; something unique to interactive with as opposed to just going out and buying or downloading the album. Bringing it into a game scenario makes the audience become competitive and the want for the new album or a song from it is even higher than perhaps normally would be. He has a strong following so perhaps for them, this interactive online game did not come as a surprise, its presence shows that as an artist, Dolby is trying to keep that closeness between the audience and his continuous story through his music; he is letting them feel empowered and rewarded for it at the same time.

The concept of the transmedia game works as it is using Dolby’s music to bring together an audience through a different platform, and at the same time encouraging social interaction, always with the audience in mind, providing for their wants and needs. The project could have been extended further by incorporating social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter to encourage audience participation and discussion of the album even further.

The more windows people are viewing the world through, the more complex their interpretations are … As described by Kevin Human in a TEDx Creative Coast talk, the wider the platforms the wider audience market you’re reaching out to.

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Transmedia – Flight Of The Conchords

The music-comedy duo Flight of the Conchords have (also) incorporated exaggerated versions of themselves into their presentation. They perform under their real names, Jemaine and Bret, but affect slightly awkward, foolish, and ignorant personalities that match up with the songs they write and their comedic banter from live shows.

Flight of the Conchords is one of the most successful music-comedy duos to have come out of New Zealand. They started out on a radio show on the BBC which then led to them having an American television series; both of which were extremely popular. The content of their live performances and the music that they produce works extremely effectively with their audience; it does not particularly challenge them but it certainly keeps them engaged and respondent with the stories carried out by the pair. This is shown by the huge fan base that surrounds them; online on Twitter, they have over 53, 000 followers, and their sell out tours worldwide illustrate just how successful the use of these multimedia platforms are in creating a sense of community.

It has been debated in the past as to whether or not transmedia is used in the correct way; do large corporate companies use it to acquire more money through commercialism or is it done purely for the creative factor and the passion?  Flight of the Conchords has a certain demographic group to cater for, those similar to The Mighty Boosh, who want to be regularly entertained with new and original material; this is one thing they can get from Jemain and Bret; unique characters who allow the audience to make up their own perception and use their creativity whilst at the same time following the story behind it all. The audience base are automatically built into this form of community, one which brings unison around the Flight of the Conchords and it is manufactured to make us feel at ease with what we are a part of. Another way they creatively utilize multimedia platforms is through the creation of a Google maps reality tour; on the Flight of the Conchords official website there is a link to this map which locates all the significant Manhattan and New York City settings in the story, there is also an option to leave comments, once again, engaging the audience and encouraging interaction which enhances the community made. It fits into the definition of transmedia story telling as it is about telling different aspects of the same story across different media.,-73.964081&spn=0.071642,0.061111&z=14

“If transmedia is really going to work as a mainstream consumer concept rather than a marketing endeavour or a cult experiment, it will have to involve stories designed from the ground up to be both interactive and platform agnostic”


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