Category Archives: VI Onward with Invention!

Other design issues I find worth posting about, though beyond the scope of this book

Simulating Heroism

Earlier this semester one of my students showed a Sony Playstation promotional video called Michael  in which characters from multiple videogames gather in a bar. A Globe and Mail column describes the scene like this:

“Michael” is a two-minute live-action film featuring characters from more than a dozen games that have appeared on PlayStation platforms. It begins with a pair of Second World War soldiers from Call of Duty parachuting through the night into a forest. The duo make their way through the shadows to a dimly lit pub, where they find PlayStation-exclusive heroes including God of War’s Kratos, Uncharted’s Nathan Drake, and LittleBigPlanet’s Sack Boy mingling with personalities from popular multiplatform franchises including PortalAssassin’s Creed, and Metal Gear Solid. Continue reading

Transcending Transmedia Part 2

In a  previous post I described “transmedia storytelling” as an interim term for an additive strategy  of  creating a consistent fictional world across multiple legacy media platforms, like TV and videogames.  I expressed an expectation that we will see a unified new genre of storytelling native to the new digital medium, as I described in a previous book.

The SyFy TV show Defiance will have an associated MMO set in a different city within the same storyworld.

What would this new participatory story genre look like? Some of its conventions are clear, based on the way people have wanted to connect with existing story worlds and multiplayer games: It will involve an internally consistent but puzzling fictional world, an authored but participatory plot, and an encyclopedically large cast built around a small number of iconic figures. Continue reading

Transcending Transmedia Part 1

Every week there is a new announcement of “How transmedia storytelling is changing TV” . This week it is parallel TV and web contests on Bravo’s Top Chef.

Entertainment is a risky business, so anything that makes money or attracts attention becomes the basis of the next pitch and the next big investment. After the success of Lost in spreading fan involvement from the TV screen to the web in the form of intense plot speculation, map-making, webisodes, and games, “transmedia storytelling” — whose properties have been brilliantly observed by my old friend and colleague Henry Jenkins of USC — became the goal of many producers. I agree with Henry that the creation of a consistent story world with participatory elements that takes viewers deeper into the fictional universe is a phenomenon that is very much worth taking note of.  But I am also impatient with the concept, because I don’t expect “transmedia” anything to be around very long.

Continue reading

Mapping the Beat

This semester I am teaching interactive narrative again and we spend a great deal of time thinking about dramatic beats.  

Our friends at the Stupid Fun Club have helped out by letting my students use StoryMaker the authoring system they developed for the crowd-sourced Current TV show, Bar Karma.This  screen shot shows how StoryMaker lets one or more authors make up alternate versions of the same beat and link them along alternate paths. Unfortunately for us, the system is meant to produce unisequential TV shows rather than multisequential interactive narratives, so we can’t build our stories in it. But it is still very useful because it imposes an organization of multiple parallel dramatic beats (the columns) capable of being linked by  multiple intersecting paths.