I figure we’re all suckers for some kind of fandom. Geek worship. Subscribing to the hype monster. But I find myself returning to the same question, is Transmedia for me?
Reading Jon Vidar’s article ‘The Transmedia Secret of Secret Cinema‘ in the Huffington Post, I couldn’t really appreciate his enthusiasm for Secret cinema. Sitting in a cell for hours prior to watching The Shawshank Redemption would sure enough get you a little toey to watch the film, but enhancing the experience? Expanding the story world in a useful way? I couldn’t think of anything worse.
So too, the idea of having to enter codes, or follow clues to find out everything I need to know about Lost or The Matrix similarly leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
I’ve tried to reconcile these thoughts by reassuring myself that said apprehension is the result of my relationship to entertainment. In that, I appreciate the traditional approach to watching a film, or TV. Sitting down and bloody watching the thing. While Vidar suggests the ‘lean back experience’ prevents potential ‘true’ engagement with the subject matter, I would argue that some Transmedia alienates a large part of its viewership – that is, if a piece of entertainment is to rely on transmedia being an integral aspect of the experience as The Matrix did.
What would, however, lead me to mindfully invest in Transmedia is some concrete or even just substantiated evidence that Transmedia increases the value, and hence money making ability, of the entertainment product.
Industrial as this may seem, surely the investment into online and real world structures, take for example a fully fitted prison for Vidar, has to be justified by dollars.
Perhaps, this relationship isn’t direct. Perhaps the real investment is in the ‘brand’, and by building the brand of a show or movie you gain a following that have a true connection with the content providing – love marks.
Surely I’m not the only one. Surely, films can be done with such affluence that the simple act of watching it in a cinema is so much more enticing than trawling through a whole bunch of ‘expansion packs’ to increase the attractiveness of this world.
After all, if Transmedia isn’t making the brand money, and torrenting, Netflix and others continue along the same trajectory, we’ll find ourselves relying on the ‘lean back experience’ to bring in the cash.
Can Transmedia transcend beyond a gimmick? I hesitate to respond with a yes.