The Elements of Transmedia Storytelling Explained

Henry Jenkins identified several elements that are part of the fundamental structure of a TS strategy; although originally presented as pairs of elements, these were separated to provide a clear overview and definition for each of them:

a) Spreadability: defined as “the capacity of the public to engage actively in the circulation of media content through social networks and…expand its economic value and cultural worth” (Jenkins, 2009a) this concept stresses the need for content to be shared and emphasises that the story is only enhanced when the recipient interacts with it.

b) Drillability: according to Jenkins (2009a), it is the factor that causes engagement and persuades the user to dig deeper into the story and continue participating with it.

c) Continuity: the audience needs to perceive that TS has a logical development across different platforms; this means that one character should behave the same way in different media maintaining the consistency of the story (Jenkins, 2009a; Scolari, 2013a).

d) Multiplicity: this concept is applied when a story expands or originates far from the original core of the story, such as fan fiction, and becomes an alternate or complementing version of the original (Jenkins, 2009a; Scolari 2013a).

e) Immersion: described as “the ability of consumers to enter into fictional worlds” as if they could look inside a different reality (Jenkins, 2009b).

f) Extrability: this concept, in contrast with immersion, indicates that the consumer can take elements of the story which could be applied to common life situations (Jenkins, 2009b). To exemplify this principle, Scolari (2013a) brings forward the case of Duff beer, which was developed inside The Simpsons show and commercialized later on, making it available for the public.

g) Worldbuilding: TS builds a larger scenario for the story to be set in; from the small details such as characters’ traits that help the story seem more realistic, to links (events or places) that connect stories together (Jenkins, 2009b). Janet Murray (cited in Jenkins, 2009b) brought forward the concept of “encyclopaedic” impulse, which can be interpreted as the interest the audience experiences to learn more about the worlds created by the stories.

h) Seriality: Jenkins (2009b) suggests that in TS the pieces of information are spread across different media, instead of the traditional linear sequence that stories used to follow. These pieces must create meaning and complete a whole story, although the sequence can often be unclear to the consumer; Jenkins (2009b), emphasises that more research is needed to comprehend if the audience can truly make sense of a story with the parts in any order.

i) Subjectivity: refers to parts of TS that focus on aspects of the original plot that have not been explored before, or secondary characters whose stories are developed to gain the interest of consumers (Jenkins, 2009b).

j) Performance: audience participation is essential to a TS strategy (Jenkins, 2009b); consumers who become fans will aid in sharing the content and often add new elements to the story themselves (Scolari, 2013a), therefore, enriching the experience as a whole.

 

To learn more about this you can read the following:

Scolari, C. (2013a). Narrativas Transmedia: Cuando todos los medios cuentan. Barcelona: Deusto.

Jenkins, H. (2009a). The Revenge of the Origami Unicorn: Seven Principles of Transmedia Storytelling (Well, Two Actually. Five More on Friday). [online]. The Official Weblog of Henry Jenkins. Available from: http://henryjenkins.org/2009/12/the_revenge_of_the_origami_uni.html [Accessed 28 May 2013].

Jenkins, H. (2009b). Revenge of the Origami Unicorn: The Remaining Four Principles of Transmedia Storytelling. [online]. The Official Weblog of Henry Jenkins. Available from: http://henryjenkins.org/2009/12/revenge_of_the_origami_unicorn.html [Accessed 28 May 2013].

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