The future of the transmedia ecosystem

Experiencing bricolage content

As transmedia users move fluidly among various forms of media, they transcend the experience of any single platform. Also, users actively engage personally with content through various forms of media, something Mark Deuze (2006) refers to as bricolage behavior.

Bricolage, a form of reusing, is one of the unique characteristics of digital culture, along with active participation. Such a bricolage process allows a level of flexibility while maintaining a specific framework. The elements that can be utilized may be numerous and complicated but not infinite, flexibly constructed but not unrelated, and when the same methodology is performed across projects, a sense of uniformity is also maintained.

In a transmedia environment, users directly interact with their media environment, and will select a compilation of media content that best meets their personal preferences, according to their circumstances and needs. Here, users are allowed to freely assemble, disassemble, and reassemble to create new content as they see fit. It can be said, then, that consumers of transmedia can fulfill the role of a genuine producer, though their depth of the experience in this field is entirely dependent on the level of engagement of each individual user.

Content consumption through creation

The brilliant revelations that we often associate with creativity in daily life adopt a different form in transmedia storytelling. When considering Jenkins’ definition, users of transmedia content do not simply read, watch, and consume but instead they take direct action. An experience of transmedia content is not something that can be acquired through a single text; various users must compile their collective discoveries and experiences. Consumption is a passive act, and transmedia content is designed to be more than just consumed. To understand the overall meaning of any transmedia content, a consumer must seek out other related content to actively engage with. As users navigate these various forms of media in their consumption of content, they can acquire an individual sense of control, a sort of personal copyright in a world of creation that is not focused on a single entity.

Modern media consumption can be said to form individual spheres of discourse depending on the content and the platform. What must be addressed, however, is that not all users are interested in consuming content through a variety of media platforms, and lack any interest in the participatory and creative processes of transmedia content. Also, not only do users differ in their level of engagement in transmedia content but differ to such a degree that there are now identifiable ranks among consumers in terms of their general media savvy. As the level of consumption of transmedia content expands, users’ understanding of such content increases accordingly.

What exists now is a situation where decisions regarding the success of specific networks or platforms, depending on fluctuations in the media environment, are made not by content producers but by the consumers themselves. Thus, the progression of transmedia phenomena is determined by both digital media and the creative activity of content users, indicating that what remains is the task of studying the phenomenon and compiling data on such behavior.

The transmedia ecosystem

Transmedia is not a single work but an ecosystem! Given the way that transmedia storytelling incorporates multiple media platforms, I argue the habits it encourages will instigate a cultural transformation that will inspire consumers to actively engage while wielding a plethora of information and intellectual stimulation. Media theorist and futurist McLuhan once said, “No form of media is meaningful on its own, and is always dependent its interaction with other media to establish its meaning,” applying concentric principles to his study of media networks. McLuhan’s analysis of the interactive relationship between culture and technology forms a solid base from which to examine content in the digital age.

While digital games have taken over some of the positions formerly held by novels, films, and television, these once-dominant mediums continue to exert their own influence in today’s world. Instead of simply reaping the benefits of forms such as print media and video in a one-way process, these traditional mediums now play the role of mediator in a two-way, interactive process—an age where a game’s narrative and interactivity are more important than the game itself. The process of digital gaming becoming affected by a variety of mediums is based on more than just technology; it is developing into an arena where the forms of the standard media are preserved while the contents of stories are re-mediated. A macrocosmic and interactive window that reveals the relationships between game storytelling and storytelling through other media, transmedia storytelling will continue to impact our lives, society, and culture in a significant way.

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This article is from the free online course:

Transmedia Storytelling

Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU)