Transmedia Story Examples

Hi everyone,

On Wednesday you’ll be working with a partner to figure out how to best ensure that your “SciFi Objects” help to tell your story about an imagined technology or techno-world. Imagine that what you’re doing is starting to build out an entire transmedia world in which your technology is featured. Think hard about why/what you include in that world. In all good world building lots of things are left out in order to focus on what best advances the stories.

Here are a couple of examples of transmedia stories to help you as you’re working on your revisions and workshopping (yes, you should be working on this over the next several days)

The Roswell Experience (this, GoT, and Breakdowns are promotional for Conductrr platform, but they also give you a good overview of how and why things work)

Game of Thrones In Place (Spanish)


DC Comic’s Batman (comic book) + Batman Begins (film) + Arkham Knight (video game)

Be ready not only to workshop your ideas in class on Wednesday with your partner, but also to be randomly called up to talk us through your idea in a live speed crit.


On Grading – it’s about to get real

For many of you this is a first class in your college career and for many this class has felt, shall we say a little “loosey-goosey”. You’ve been evaluated based on doing things, but not necessarily on the quality of the work. Part of this has been to create room inside of the class structure for exploration and creativity. Part of this has also been to train you all in how to help evaluate and support one another (the critiques etc). And part of it has been about getting CritViz up and going.

I want to point out, however, that with each culminating assignment in a unit (for example, the transmedia story that is due on 9/16) you’ll be evaluated on the quality of your work by me, Abby, and Josh. So, if you haven’t figured out how to relate media nodes across a narrative, if you don’t yet have a compelling story with a clear sense of place, of character, of conflict – well, that’s going to be reflected in your grade.

So – please be aware that we’ve created and will continue to create space for you to work/workshop/explore and ask questions. As a consequence, we expect that you’ll have amazing transmedia stories by the end of next week that help us see how you’re hard at work prototyping some kind of dream.

Low-Fi Prototyping

Part of what we’re doing in this class is not only thinking through transmedia narratives, but also becoming comfortable with the idea that low-fidelity prototyping is a useful creative and research tool.

Good reasons to do it

  • full on prototyping takes time, skills, and $$
  • you can simulate your later prototype and evaluate and imaginatively deploy
  • it’s an entry point for you and for collaborators who don’t know (yet) how to code/build/design etc.

Helpful approaches

  • don’t think too long – build it and see
  • build it in a couple of different ways
  • be open to possibilities that you didn’t envision initially

Note that while we are looking at Lo-Fi here, that doesn’t mean this should be easy.

Transmedia Storytelling

Some additional definitions and resources re: Transmedia Storytelling from Giovagnoli, Transmedia Storytelling

You may also want to draw from this site The Complete Guide to Transmedia Storytelling, which uses Henry Jenkins’ definition (which I gave in class) quite extensively.

a definition: “narrative forms that share the same elements (plots, characters, atmospheres… ) but that change depending on the publishing platform through which they are released (for instance, the same short film might be developed as a series or as a movie for the theater; its protagonist for a comic book series, etc… ).”

Telling stories which are distributed on multiple media is like creating a new geography of the tale and it requires the author and the audience to agree on some fixed and safe spaces for sharing, even if they can be altered to different combinations. Hence, before going on, it is important to clarify in this short introduction what the publishing and technological restrictions are, that are shared by all the different tales explained in these pages. The four cardinal points of “doing transmedia” are:

  1. Doing transmedia means to involve multiple media in a publishing project, keeping the features and the language of each one, even if they are part of a single system of integrated communication;
  2. Doing transmedia means to make the project’s contents available on different technological platforms, without causing any overlaps or interferences, while managing the story experienced by different audiences;
  3. Doing transmedia means to allow the multiple media to tell different stories but all exploring a common theme, even if it is experienced through multiple narrative perspectives;
  4. Doing transmedia means to agree to give a part of the authorship and responsibility of the tale to the audience and other storytellers in order to create a participatory and synergistic story in the experiences of the different audiences of the tale.

Thus, exploring the narrative universe of a story by using transmedia is even more like a question of experience than use, and it makes compromises and challenges necessary for both the authors and the audiences. It is the proper founding act for the tale, and an excellent opportunity to influence the homo ludens of today who are longing for new and more active roles in the process of fantasy and imagery-making. (Prof note: this is a critical step in the prototyping process – how can you imagine your new world/new tech/new usage of existing tech).

Building blocks of a SF story

  • step 1 – (you can use your haiku if you want) name/identify your future technology

step 2 – setting – what’s the setting of your story?

step 3 – how does your science or tech change the world?

Step 4 – what is the main character of your story like and what is the conflict?

These building blocks should feed into your 1000 word story for next week.

What do we mean when we say “critique”

Let’s talk about ‘critique’

In many ways its a hard but useful term. Hard because the ways that it can mean vary; useful because it’s part of the standard vocabulary in almost all of the arts and humanities.

Oxford English Dictionary (never used it? you have free access through the library!) defines critique thus:

 1. An essay or article in criticism of a literary (or more rarely, an artistic) work; a review.

2. The action or art of criticizing; criticism.

Now, “review” doesn’t feel too bad, but for some that “criticism” thing may feel more like “attack.” Learning to not take feedback personally is a great skill for college level work. Learning how to give and recognize useful feedback is just as valuable.

Other places where the work of “critique” shows up but in different guises: the already mentioned “review,” writing groups, editorial or other feedback, crowd response (clapping/snapping, anyone?), engagement (dialogue, conversation), up and down voting in social media, call out culture.

One of the really useful ways to reframe ‘critique’ is to think in terms of how collaborative teams work (or don’t) and how brainstorming best unfolds. With thanks to Josh Gigantino for the use of his favorite resources – here are two guides on Teambuilding and IDEO Rules of Brainstorming that can function as guideline to how critique can best unfold in this course.

Some key features: listen, engage, encourage wild ideas, use “yes, and” instead of “but” or other turns of phrase that shut down exploration.

Here are some traditional ways of approaching critique, especially in the arts and arts writing.


Describe the work without using value words.


Describe how the work is organized as a complete composition


Describe how the expressive qualities of the work, what does it invoke by way of figurative language?

Judgment or Evaluation

Describe your sense of the successes and limitations of the work based on what you understand it to be doing. Consider offering thoughts aimed at improving – don’t just praise or pan.

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird, by Wallace Stevens


Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird.

I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds.

The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of the pantomime.

A man and a woman
Are one.
A man and a woman and a blackbird
Are one.

I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.

Icicles filled the long window
With barbaric glass.
The shadow of the blackbird
Crossed it, to and fro.
The mood
Traced in the shadow
An indecipherable cause.

O thin men of Haddam,
Why do you imagine golden birds?
Do you not see how the blackbird
Walks around the feet
Of the women about you?

I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
But I know, too,
That the blackbird is involved
In what I know.

When the blackbird flew out of sight,
It marked the edge
Of one of many circles.

At the sight of blackbirds
Flying in a green light,
Even the bawds of euphony
Would cry out sharply.

He rode over Connecticut
In a glass coach.
Once, a fear pierced him,
In that he mistook
The shadow of his equipage
For blackbirds.

The river is moving.
The blackbird must be flying.

It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
The blackbird sat
In the cedar-limbs.