A few articles have come across my attention this week, so I thought I'd just share a few thoughts today. Brian Clark on Transmedia Business Models
Likely you've already seen this if you follow the transmedia circles, but over on Henry Jenkins' blog, Brian Clark does a great job of examining the business side of transmedia, and ten basic business models for how a project might be conceived and executed, which pretty much runs the gamot from "paying for it yourself because you love doing it" to "getting paid a bunch of money by someone to do it" and covers the whys and the hows and the payoffs. Part 1 is here.
At Kill Screen, Chris Dahlen revealed himself to be the writer behind PixelVixen707, a fictional gaming blogger that was part of the Personal Effects: Dark Arts experience by JC Hutchins and Jordan Weisman. It's a really fantastic piece about writing a fictional character and getting that invested in them, getting into their head and out of your own, the trials of doing so and the rewards that came with it.
It touches as well on the betrayal felt by her followers when she revealed herself to be fictional -- a nod to the idea that pervasive entertainment need not pretend to be real to be accepted -- though I found it interesting that Chris found people eventually just accepted it and moved on.
I won't do justice to the piece in summary, so go read it.
CBC Spark interview with Steve Rubel
Finally, the CBC radio program Spark interviewed Steve Rubel at PR firm Edelman about transmedia storytelling. In the twenty minute interview, they seem to try to cover the very broad question of "what is transmedia, and why should I care?" which is probably going to be the only question the general populace are going to ask for a while.
Rubel does a pretty good job of explaining transmedia storytelling -- from a PR firm's perspective, anyway. He talks a bit about how Hollywood is using it, and a bit about how public figures can use "transmedia" to help promote their own brand (what Brian Clark might call using transmedia storytelling methods) -- he says to try to find the narrative in what you do, and play to that.
Ehhhh ok. He's on the right track as far as story being important, but a lot of what he talks about there seems like pretty basic PR stuff -- have a twitter account, connect with your audience... Not really transmedia specific.
But Wait There's More: One comment I think I'd make on all of these kinds of people who talk about transmedia storytelling to the general populace is this: I just wish they'd acknowledge the wider community and the plethora of viewpoints. I'm not saying he's wrong about transmedia storytelling -- to him and what he does, he nails what's important. I just wish they'd say "But that's my PR firm perspective. Talk to a game designer, a freelance writer, a Hollywood creator, and you'll get some different and equally interesting perspectives, which in total will give you an idea of what transmedia storytelling is."
Creative Intent: He also says that the main thrust of transmedia is essentially that people don't want to let go of a story they love, and want more from it -- the game, the second screen experience, etc. The host asks the important question of "What if I don't want more to it?" She uses the example of The Wire as a fully self-contained story crafted to be fully self-contained. Rubel argues that self-contained stories actually aren't -- that the audience has always created more around it, simply by discussing it (something that happened long before social media).
I guess I see what he's saying, but I disagree with the principle. Yes, audiences will often take a property onward, at least in social discussions, but that doesn't make it transmedia storytelling certainly, and more to the point, it doesn't mean that story should be transmedia.
There's something that's missing in a conversation like this, and that's creative intent. What if I want to write a book, put it out in the world, and that's it? What if I have crafted it to be a fully self-contained experience? If people take it and run with it and write fan fiction or whatever, that's great -- does that mean I should have made it into a transmedia experience so that my audience had more to play with? No. Maybe I could have made more money if I did (maybe -- let's also consider the cost of making more content), but even so, maybe that wasn't my creative vision. Sometimes, stories are done. William Gibson isn't writing any more stories in the Neuromancer universe, no matter how much I want them (I asked him). His creative vision is complete, and there is no reason it needs to be "transmediafied".
Some things are meant to be single-platform; some things are meant to be finite. And that's ok.
Be sure to check out our experimental fiction project Azrael's Stop, about a boy who must learn to live when everyone he loves has died. Updated daily at azraelsstop.com