I was turned onto this article and this article over at Boing Boing today. While I’ve been aware of interactive concepts in entertainment, the term “Transmedia” was new to me, and so I continued to follow link after link until I found NoMimeMedia (and most notable their very educational blog) and Haikulu, which I’ll come back to in just a mo’.
In the past year, co-running Robot Comics, our goal has been to operate as a publisher for original (unique) mobile content, as well as developing new and consistently evolving interactive features for the digital reading experience. The technology, believe it or not, isn’t advancing as rapidly as we’d like (you wouldn’t know it with how many new gadgets are released every week, but the actual technological abilities of all these devices don’t vary by much, especially not in the operational sense – same limitations, same basic features supported, usually just slicker and faster and better default graphics).
Still, there’s a lot that we can already do. Integration with social media accounts, unlockables, “extras”, a visually customizable reading experience, choose your own adventure style interaction (which can, in turn, be blended with RPG-esque game rules like used in this Lone Wolf DS engine). Even these features take an inordinate amount of work and cooperation with the publishers involved to bring their work digital with all these bells and whistles attached. A lot of work. I can only imagine what it must take to tackle something like a Transmedia project, but in a way, everything companies like Robot Comics, Graphic.ly, Longbox, and ComiXology are doing will eventually need to evolve into Transmedia waters. We’re trying to move traditional modes of delivering narrative entertainment into increasingly digital and interactive zones. It’ll behoove us all to consider this ultimate realm of Transmedia when considering our individual road maps for the future.
Interestingly, the Transmedia experts at NoMimesMedia, digital publishers like Robot Comics, and distributors like Graphic.ly – if this letter to publishers their CEO posted the other week is any indication – all agree on what the biggest hurdle is: the content controllers. Traditional publishers. Corporations that have to appease an incredible number of shareholders with little to no interest in risk taking. Technology will continue to evolve, faster and faster. There’s no one denying that fact. What every digital entertainment media entrepreneur overestimated, however, was how obvious the need to adapt to Transmedia-style approaches would be to the content holders of the major media franchises.
It’s up to the independent guys to lead the way, as always, although none of these new-fangled practices will be accepted by the majority until the major properties come with. Or until a few runaway sleeper successes manage it first. The waiting is frustrating though. Exciting, and fun, and nothing would ever make me stop, but mother of pearl, comPLETEly frustrating.
Already sites like KICKSTARTER and now HUKILAU are getting things started for the independent folk out there, however. Hukilau is in its Beta phase, but go sign up and check it out. It actually looks like a massive step up from the Kickstarter model for creative types, as it’s about much more than funding, but about production and finding an audience for the creative project to boot. You can act as a creator, a producer, or just a fan. Frankly, I’m in LOVE.