Fuck Transmedia

Fuck games.

That’s what games researcher Miguel Sicart said in his really entertaining and thoughtful talk at the Play All! seminar on Wednesday:

Fuck Games

Moving along the same lines:


[blockquote color=’#4f4f4f’]Fuck Transmedia[/blockquote] [blockquote align=”right” color=’#4f4f4f’]Transmedia storytelling represents a process where integral elements of a fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience. Ideally, each medium makes it own unique contribution to the unfolding of the story.

Henry Jenkins[/blockquote]

But why this seemingly confrontational attitude towards a phenomenon, which so many people currently eagerly embrace?

Because it’s nothing but bloody confusing and misleading, that’s why.

People keep talking about transmedia as the holy grail of contomporary storytelling.

Many initiatives stress the importance of “adding value” by distributing content across media.

“If it’s transmedia, it’s great”.

What if all this leads to is a disappointing feeling of “butter scraped over too much bread”?

Let me make it clear, that I’m obviously not opposed to the application of several different media platforms in building stories, universes, experiences, whatever. I’m just blatantly opposed to the notion, that transmedia is as universally good, as current discourses would have you believe.

It is not.

Transmedia ought never be a success criterion by itself. Transmedia is never the goal.

In many cases, it doesn’t make any sense at all, and the hype seems to turn proper decision processes on its head.

Too often the first decision in the creative process is to build transmedia.

That’s the wrong approach.

Forget media. Transmedia, any media.




What do you want to achieve?

Entertainment? Reflection? Learning? Provocation? Change?

How do you want to achieve this? What’s the creative idea?

Those are important questions, whereas the choice of media is a trival one. Consider media mere tools, which you apply in well thought out ways and doses whenever relevant.

Transmedia holds potential, but the potential is not in “transmedia”. The potential is in carefully selecting relevant tools/media, designing a framework for your users/community to interact with in order to facilitate desired experiences (as a side note, I think the most interesting examples of transmedia are build around the notion of “interactivity”, allowing users to play with the content). “Transmedia” might be a perfectly fine choice in many situations, but why even think about what you do as “transmedia”? Why not think about it as a “fan-fuckin’-tastic project creating a unique and engaging user experience”? It’s not transmedia that creates such an experience; it’s a team of creative content developers.

Here’s my second major gripe with transmedia; it mirrors an all-too-common tendency to uncritically embrace and believe technology, hailing it as humanity’s only hope.

Humanity’s only hope is humanity. Not technology. Technology does neither good nor bad.

Humans does.

Fuck technology.

Fuck transmedia.


The current infatuation with transmedia only reminds me of this:

Emperor's New Clothes

Let’s please be a little more critical with transmedia; if it means anything, it just describes a toolbox.

Use it wisely.