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News & Features Discussion  » General: “Ultimate” Transmedia

14 posts found

Managing Editor

Joined: 7/08/05
Posts: 6729

OP  5/11/10 9:04:05 AM#1 columnist Justin Webb breaks down the idea of Transmedia and tells us how it applies to MMOs.

In this article I'm going to talk about the emergence of transmedia in popular culture. After some basic definitions, I'll lead into Iron Man 2 as a continuing example of the trend, and then go on to mention the Matrix, Dead Space, The Agency, and then speculate about 38 Studio's "Mercury" and "Copernicus". "Converging Media" will be referenced throughout; McLuhan and Jenkins will again be invoked; and predictions regarding the future of MMOs will be made. Samuel L. Jackson will be referred to as "glue".

If you were one of the $130 million worth of punters that saw Iron Man 2 this weekend, you were also inadvertently part of a massive piece of transmedia. In this case, part of a long-term marketing plan by Marvel for the launch the Avengers (in 2012). Transmedia storytelling, a term coined by the always excellent Professor Henry Jenkins, takes place across multiple parallel media (movies, comics, games, websites, books, etc.), each with their own unique “entry points”, and each supplying their own distinct narratives that, when taken as a whole, provide a comprehensive understanding of the story’s universe. In the case of Iron Man and its sequel (and the last Hulk movie), these movies supply entry points into the world of the (Ultimate) Avengers, detailing how Nick Fury gradually puts together the team that will feature in the 2012 blockbuster. As that date approaches, in addition to the Thor and Captain America movies, I bet we’ll start seeing Facebook and iPad apps, Twitter feeds, new comics, video games, some kind of game from Gazillion, themed TCGs, and other cool stuff, that all have their own unique narratives but provide additional consumer entry points into the world of the Avengers.

Read “Ultimate” Transmedia.

Jon Wood
Managing Editor


Apprentice Member

Joined: 8/14/09
Posts: 178

5/11/10 9:46:56 AM#2

Welcome to twenty years ago.

Transmedia isn't a new concept.  Video Games, comic books, and television programs have been doing this sort of thing since the early 90's.  GI Joe was doing it in the late 80's.  There were massive crossovers betweent he cartoons and comic books, movie events, and even attempts at video games, though the graphical sophistrication was hardly of a quality like we see now, and so met with limited success.

Giving it a slick new name doesn't change the fact that it's really nothing more than a storyline crossover between different media types.  It's been done for a long time.  It just hasn't been all that successful.  And as you said, this was an experiment, so we have yert to see if they can pull it off here.

Still, IM2 rocked, the shield was a nice touch, I really wish Ed Norton had made his cameo (but I see why he didn't), and the artifact at the end of the movie got a standing ovation from my theater.


Novice Member

Joined: 3/07/04
Posts: 389

Never make anything idiot proof as someone will make a better idiot.

5/11/10 11:47:29 AM#3

True, it is not new but it does often lead to great entertainment.

I used to visit this site a lot however in recent years it has become the home of negative forum posts, illogical opinions and tantrums so I visit less often.

Played or Beta'd: UO / DAOC / Horizons / EQ2 / DDO / EVE / Archlord / PirateKingsOnline / Tabula Rasa / LOTRO / AOC / Champions / Darkfall / Mortal Online / DCUO / Rift / STO / SWTOR / TSW


Novice Member

Joined: 10/07/05
Posts: 1287

5/11/10 1:27:02 PM#4

I like comic book tie ins, and the whole Enter the Matrix game tie in was pretty good, but I hate facebook and their apps are just cheap cash grabs and time sinks. If it gets to the point where I 'have' to play a facebook app to get background info on a movie or a game I'm kicking somebodies ass. It may just be some unfortunate person I meet on the street, but somebody is going to pay!


Novice Member

Joined: 8/22/08
Posts: 18

5/11/10 1:51:54 PM#5
Originally posted by Dracondis

Welcome to twenty years ago.


'Nuff said.


Novice Member

Joined: 3/20/10
Posts: 489

5/11/10 2:28:17 PM#6

It's an old trick, but it can certainly work when done right. Or you can wind up with situations like Marvel and D.C. who apparently had their continuity handled by M.C. Escher. Each piece needs to be able to stand on its own, though.

A Modest Proposal for MMORPGs:
That the means of progression would not be mutually exclusive from the means of enjoyment.


Novice Member

Joined: 5/11/04
Posts: 96

5/11/10 2:53:56 PM#7

Yeah, but most (but not all) of the 'transmedia' or as they used to call it multimedium synergy, was cheap attempts at doing advertising to different markets and failed miserably. The ones that either took it seriously or lucked out to have really talented people or groups looking to make a name were the ones that were successful 20 years ago.

Ever since the Matrix, the idea that you try to do it all right, and back it with the funding to do so is relatively new.

How many bad comic book tie in video games can you name? Some of them are so serially bad that when a good one comes out it is met with shock and a very good one (like Batman: Arkham Asylum which ties closely into the animated Batman TV series, comic books, and arguably while having different cannon, The Dark Night movies) is treated like a gift from god.


One thing the article misses out on is that another vector they put out is psudo or directly related documentaries they fund and sell to broadcasters at a discount to get  cross promotion. I am surprised with the longer development time most games have that MMO's and other video games haven't done this too.


Novice Member

Joined: 7/01/06
Posts: 812

5/11/10 3:35:01 PM#8
If you talk to any Marketing Agent worth his or her salt they will tell you that the other reason why companies are doing this is that mass marketing is dying.  It is harder now to get product information in front of the consumers with things like DVRs, Satellite Radio or even MP3 players all designed to allow people to control that flow of information to them. So companies are trying to find any way to get information in front of you, from Transmedia to viral marketing.  With this search for alternative ways to market you can count on more and more things like this to happen over the next decade. The fact that this is happening should not suprise anyone, you just have to look at what is happening to the ad industry.

Novice Member

Joined: 3/20/10
Posts: 489

5/11/10 4:06:31 PM#9
Originally posted by AKASlaphappy
If you talk to any Marketing Agent worth his or her salt they will tell you that the other reason why companies are doing this is that mass marketing is dying.  It is harder now to get product information in front of the consumers with things like DVRs, Satellite Radio or even MP3 players all designed to allow people to control that flow of information to them. So companies are trying to find any way to get information in front of you, from Transmedia to viral marketing.  With this search for alternative ways to market you can count on more and more things like this to happen over the next decade. The fact that this is happening should not suprise anyone, you just have to look at what is happening to the ad industry.

True. That's one of the reasons that product placement and in-game ads are becoming more prevalent. If the advertisment is actually part of the show/game, it at least registers subconsciously to the viewer, who might have otherwise just left to grab a snack or something.

A Modest Proposal for MMORPGs:
That the means of progression would not be mutually exclusive from the means of enjoyment.


Hard Core Member

Joined: 3/07/04
Posts: 2581

5/11/10 4:12:14 PM#10

Yeah, I waited for the hidden ending after the credits to Iron Man 2.
I didnt read somewhere that there was one I knew Marvel would continue the trend they developed with hidden endings to Iron Man 1 and Incredible Hulk.
I also dont need confirmation that there will probably be a glacier scene at the end of Thor's credits.

Having the entertainment mediums connected but not really is brilliant marketing. As already mentioned the Matrix video games is a perfect example of this.
Enter the Matrix was a compantion to the movies and Matrix Online was a continuation of the movies.
"Transmedia" entices people that want the entire story. 38 Studios is setting up for transmedia overdrive with their franchise.


Apprentice Member

Joined: 1/02/07
Posts: 1913

Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality.

5/11/10 4:57:22 PM#11

Thats obvious and would have to be blind not to see that movies and other stories are influencing mmos. What you devs don't seem to understand or just do not care is that It doesn't matter what the game is because if it lacks heart its going to show and no one will want to play your pile of shit game. This article would give a corp wood at the idea of just selling box sales and not subscriptions. 

P.S. hate reading your articles.


Spotlight Poster

Joined: 3/02/05
Posts: 1666

5/11/10 5:08:43 PM#12

This has already been introduced to mmos. City of Heroes, for example, has the game, the comic books, and also a novel called The Web of Arachnos. They also have stories on their website and a guest author program for the mission architect system.  So the lore for that game is spread out over at least 5 types of media.


World of Warcraft has the game, the previous games, the numerous books, the card game, two board games, a miniatures game, a comic, and I don't know what all else.


There are many other examples.

EQ1, EQ2, SWG, SWTOR, GW, CoH, CoV, FFXI, WoW, CO, War,TSW and a slew of free trials and beta tests


Novice Member

Joined: 8/22/08
Posts: 18

5/11/10 7:32:24 PM#13
Originally posted by aleos

P.S. hate reading your articles.

That just made my day.  >=D


Apprentice Member

Joined: 10/16/04
Posts: 252

5/14/10 4:31:50 AM#14

The core point not addressed by the article is: how effective is it? What we are seeing now is just one iteration of something that has been done before (althought the disintermediation of media channels means that it arguably spread wider than it was in the past) but the truth of it is that it appears to falter more than it succeeds. Especially when the transmedia process promises more than the core can deliver.