Transmedia Storytelling and Cross-platform Media Franchises: Warcraft vs. The Hunger Games

Written by Qiumeng Wang

When we understand the concept of “transmedia storytelling”, it is necessary to distinguish it from traditional cross-platform media franchises. Transmedia storytelling is not such simple as adapting a story from a novel to a film.

“A transmedia story unfolds across multiple media platforms, with each new text making a distinctive and valuable contribution to the whole. (cited from Jenkins, 2006 p95)”

It is more than a way of moving a narrative to another platform. It requires expansion of original storytelling and exploring more meaning and unique value in each forms.

Based on above argument, the different performances between Warcraft and The Hunger Games reveals certain points depicting some valuable elements in a successful unfolded transmedia story.

  1. Wide Background. A story should be like a sponge involving a broad universe with plenty contents that can be expanded widely. The setting of the world or background should involve plenty values, occupations, groups and so on. In Warcraft, there are different races and each races has its own background. It is like the galaxy, besides the solar system, there are other galactic systems. However, in The Hunger Games, although the story provides twelve districts, there is little description for each district in detail. The limitation of background prevent this story from going deeper.
  2. Independent plots. In transmedia storytelling, the key point is not to create a story with perfect logic. Instead, how to develop many independent stories surrounding a complete world can offer more opportunities in story expansion when it is converted to another form. Alike Warcraft and The Game of Throne, different characters have their complete stories that can even develop an independent series. However, in The Hunger Games, each character and plot is tied closely and it is hard to find black spaces to interject something new or creating new contents in different media forms. Also, for audiences, does it make any sense to watch a story repeating and repeating again in different platforms?

Thus, storytelling in multimedia platforms is not just duplicating a story, but developing an IP and creating more and more new content and unique value in each media forms, which makes audience interact with the “world” for a longer period and maintain the energy of a story.

Video: Warcraft: transmedia storytelling

 

References:

Pratten, R., 2014. Getting Started in Transmedia Storytelling: a Practical Guide for beginners. 2011.

Jenkins, H., 2006. Convergence culture: Where old and new media collide. NYU press.

 

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