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Technology: A Driving Force Behind Transmedia

In Part I of our series, we took a brief look at the basic elements of how Transmedia is growing in popularity around the world.  Entertainment and branding are evolving and technology is helping to usher us into this new paradigm faster every day.  For the first time in history, technology is allowing us to enjoy a seamless entertainment experience. We can start watching a TV show or video online at work, pause it; come home and finish watching it on our TV, exactly where we left off. This will soon be true of all content whether it’s books, music or games. Online games, and video games in general, have in many ways given birth to Transmedia storytelling.  Video games are finally getting the recognition they deserve when it comes to: (1) delivering a compelling narrative, (2) community building and (3) great educational value.

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Gaming, and Internet use in general, is a hugely social experience and is proving to be a very successful way for people to engage with one another in a global and localized environment. Gaming, once perceived as an isolated activity, is really about bonding and community. Now that we know this and can scale this opportunity to Transmedia storytelling, we can use this as the basis for creating brand stories and entertainment properties that invite people to share information,  work more efficiently together on large projects, and ultimately retain more knowledge about a specific topic. Games have also taught us that audiences are not stupid. Left unchallenged or not specifically invited to engage with a compelling narrative on a personal level, they will move on.  Regardless of the challenges presented or the scope of the story within the context of the digital experience, people will gravitate toward live events and a visceral experience to supplement the time we spend online.

Live Events, Music and Transmedia

Live events, whether a component of brand messaging or an entertainment property, will resonate more in the coming years and in very interesting ways. As we continue to spend so much time telecommuting and engaging each other in the virtual world, we will demand engagement in the real world, perhaps more than we ever have. The live event platform of Transmedia storytelling is intrinsic to our nature and, coupled with technology, can make for a powerful universal experience and create deeper levels of audience engagement. Music has been doing this for years through concerts and other cross platform events that invite community and cross-pollination of stories and ideas.

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For example, Hip Hop and digital storytelling have always been inextricably linked with one another because both have (1) always thrived on community and participation and (2) Hip Hop culture has always used digital technology to share its story with the world. An excellent example of this can be seen in the documentary “This Is The Life” that chronicles the Good Life emcees in the early 90’s in South Central LA. Mix tapes and live events were major entry points into their narrative and helped spawn some of the major artists of today. Live events can be used in a variety of creative ways and intermingled with a variety of artistic disciplines. Take for instance the Pet Shop Boys Parisian concert in 2008 (how’s that for a reference) featuring a symphony playing their music as the Russian film “Battleship Potemkin” plays on a screen behind them in Trafalgar Square.

Improv everywhere and flashmobs are also part of the live, multi platform storytelling approach that is used to engage people in a live setting. These largely brand neutral events take a simple idea, build a story around it and deliver the narrative in a live, interactive setting where people can become engaged beyond the confines of a screen or hand-held device. They also invite co-creation through video and social networking and can provide brands with additional distribution channels, that wouldn’t exist in the virtual world.

This is all very exciting, but not without its challenges. Despite the power of the born digital crowd and access to cross platform technology, there are a few hurdles that prevent Transmedia storytelling from going mainstream…yet.   In Part III of this series, we’ll take a look at some of the hurdles brands face, as far as implementing Transmedia elements into their campaigns , as well as examine some specific opportunities for brands to increase audience engagement.  We’ll also take a stab at predicting how this new paradigm will affect branding, entertainment , and our global education system in the coming years.

Photo by: sarahshaneelizabeth

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