I’ve been eagerly studying, creating, curating and producing in the transmedia vein for the past few years, ever since the cross-media me saw the light of transmedia storytelling in a conference room in Cardiff in the summer of 2010.
I’ve taken part of all the different discussions on what transmedia really is and what it’s not, I had the privilege of attending the first Storyworld conference in San Fransisco (probably the best conference I’ve ever been at, in hindsight) and I’ve been blogging and interviewing about transmedia ever since. This, then, is a kind of a half-way check – where are we, and where are we heading?
A couple of years ago I wrote that I believe the term ”transmedia” will become utterly redundant in a few years’ time. Looking at how the audience and the audience’s engagement has evolved, how new technological possibilities, startups and solutions enable all kinds of new producers, and how the market has started leaning towards a new economy and a new way of approaching content creation, distribution and monetization… I think we’re getting there, quicker than I thought.
Films and documentaries are becoming intertwined with games and gaming principles. The stars of YouTube, with highly personal multi-million followings, are claiming their stake as forces to be reckoned with in all fields we can think of. The voice of the audience is becoming stronger and stronger and a more important part of all possible kinds of content creation, production and distribution.
There are still conferences and departments and offices with ”transmedia” in their names. There are still blog posts (as the one you’re reading, nonetheless) entitled ”transmedia this” or ”transmedia that”). There are still a credit called ”transmedia producer”. But honestly – if there is an IP today that is not on more than one media, it’s probably just because the producers simply haven’t had the time to go there yet.
Yes, I know – it’s a big difference between on one hand the cross media practice of simply distributing more-or-less the same content over a number of media platforms, and secondly using transmedia storytelling methods to create a story world and one or more stories, grounded in that world, that move over and exist on different media platforms, supporting each other to create a richer end experience. But I’m seeing encouraging signs that the latter is becoming more and more of a given, as examples of successful transmedia projects are becoming more legio.
What’s most encouraging is the rapid growth of new producers left and right; the generations growing up now are happily ignoring previous boundaries between media platforms, language barriers, territories and what have you. Looking at my ten-year-old son and how he’s producing Minecraft videos for the Finnish Broadcasting Company, doing a better job of it (almost) than I could… my only concern is that he’ll tire of it before he gets his big break J.
Finally, what I feel all of this adds up to, is a transmediated world, where most of the content we encounter are naturally generic multiplatform entities. The level of execution will vary, of course, but a great product will now reach global recognition faster than ever before.
What I believe, however, is that we as storytellers are going to have to re-assess who we are and where our ultimate responsibilities lie. In a world where stories drive information and engagement, I feel these responsibilities have grown and changed shape. It’s up to us now, how we confront them.
But that is for a future post – there’s a lot of pondering to do yet 🙂