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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