Content Potentials in Transmedia Storytelling

Student thesis: Master Thesis and HD Thesis

  • Stine Schmieg Johansen
4. term, Interactive Digital Media, Master (Master Programme)
Presenting an inquiring approach to the subject of this work, I seek to peel the layers of misconceptions and constraining theories from the subject transmedia storytelling with the purpose of being able to identify distinct qualities of this type of experience in relation to interactivity and narrativity and, subsequently, discussing how these qualities can be made operational to practitioners and in other experimental contexts.
From researching current theory on transmedia storytelling, I argue that three subfields exist: narrativity, design and culture. These subfields can be further viewed as layers from which a transmedia storytelling production is constituted. Most theory can be found inside each field while few choose to explore the relations between these fields.
This basis is followed by an analysis of the relation between interactivity and narrativity. Interactivity is argued to be the element from the subfield of design which operationalises narrative properties into specific narrative segments distributed to users.
The approach to the general aim of the work is formed as a result of initially framing transmedia storytelling by pulling apart and examining the definition by Henry Jenkins as well as other core publications on the subject. An underlying hypothesis to this is that the lack of a common frame of reference in terms of the mechanics of transmedia storytelling withholds the field in a state of flux.
From this stage of the work, form and content of transmedia storytelling are discussed through a synthesis of theory on interactivity, interactive storytelling and configurable or non-configurable systems. In other words, the work additionally attempts to converge perspectives from both aesthetic and functional rationales.
The research question “What are the distinct qualities between interactivity and narrativity in transmedia storytelling?” is unfolded from the foundation of the discussion on form and content. As a theoretical result, the work proposes that a new and unexplored content potential in transmedia storytelling exists. This content potential can be described by the transgression between narrative segments as well as the influence of one narrative segment on the subsequent.
It is concluded that the result should be further validated as well as built upon by including the subfield of culture which has currently been left out of the analysis. I suggest that such further research could be carried out as experiments, taking into account that the mapping of theoretical narrative properties would both be hard to carry out exhaustively as well as not be as useful in practical contexts.
Publication date2014
ID: 198350035