Transmedia is one of those gray areas that is evolving as creators try different ways to tell stories to their audience using technology. As technologists present more and more places to view and interact with media, creators need to think about how they are going to take advantage of that technology to talk to their audience. Transmedia then becomes storytelling across a wide range of platforms. The reason why you’d do this is equally as diverse. Some creators see this as a new way to express themselves artistically while many marketers see this as a new way to connect with an audience…and then sell them things. There isn’t going to be a right or wrong way to use these new tool, the only rules are going to be pushing the boundaries as much as you dare. You audience is going to ultimately tell you if it is working.
Alternative reality gaming is a new perspective on narrative that takes a story and divides it into layers of media. Some of these layers look familiar as video, audio and text. Some of them look different, wrapped up and hidden in puzzles and technology that force the reader to actively engage in the dialogue of the story. Rather than laying back and watching the story unfold, these narratives require the participant to lean forward and become part of that narrative. All of these elements are created on the stage of a self contained world that is constructed to overlap with the real world.
An ARG begins with the discovery of rabbit holes. The goal of a rabbit hole is to engage the curiosity of the participant and there are often many different rabbit holes that can draw them into the story. Rabbit holes can come in the form of websites, digital files, live actors, phone calls or physical media that is released to a community.
Once the story has begun, it is an ongoing interplay between the participants and the puppet-master. The puppet-master is a role taken by the person, or persons, controlling the entire ARG. They feed out information and monitor the participants to ensure that the story is unraveling in an engaging and comprehensible manner.
As the puppet-master releases elements of the story to the community, the pieces of the story are interpreted and assembled in forums and discussion groups. The puppet-master carefully watches these forums, looking for directions in the narrative that can be tweaked, even adding in new storylines that may enrich the experience. As the ARG develops they actively try to blur the line between fiction and reality. They open up a dialogue between the story world and the real world, offering an opportunity for one to impact the other.
There is a lot of ambiguity about the roles or job titles in Transmedia. Considering how new Transmedia is in the entertainment, art, marketing and advertising world there aren’t going to be a lot of traditional org charts. These are some perspectives on how those roles might be defined.