Praxis Theatre is currently on hiatus! Please find co-founders Aislinn Rose and Michael Wheeler at The Theatre Centre and SpiderWebShow, respectively.
July 16, 2012, by

Transmedia 101

by Anthea Foyer

Transmedia storytelling is becoming much more prevalent. Even if you have not heard the word you have probably experienced it, or a part of it, in some way in both popular and alternative culture. Transmedia storytelling is, essentially, a technique of telling a single story or story experience across multiple platforms and formats using current digital technologies. Audience engagement is of prime importance and a wide range of techniques are used to this end. Within each story these acts of engagement, all the platforms and actions are narratively synched to each other.

Alternate Reality Games {ARGs}, can be considered a form of transmedia storytelling. They are interactive narrative experiences that use the real world as a platform to tell stories and, generally using the internet as a hub, the audience becomes integral as they can affect the story by their ideas or actions.

Depending on your viewpoint this is either TERRIFYING! How can you control a narrative arc when everything is changing and the audience gets input! OR EXCITING! The planet as your stage, a direct connection to your audience, storytelling that is kept on its toes as it adapts to the participants.

I tend towards the second option, which is why I think that theatre creators have so much to offer and to learn from ARGs. The ‘live-ness’ of theatre, adapting to the unexpected audience reaction, the real world engagement – all of these traits that are inherent to the theatre experience are also key to making a great ARG experience. From the ARG side, I think that theatre creators can learn a lot about gaming techniques, online engagement strategies and non-linear narrative from the digital/interactive components of ARGs.

The Mission Business is a recently launched, Toronto based company that is exploring the space between the two. They describe themselves as ‘an adventure laboratory based in Toronto that designs connected live-action and online experiences to thrill you, challenge you, and make you think.’ Their expertise includes expertise in theatre, digital content creation, and game design.

Their inaugural project ZED.TO is an immersive narrative experience about the end of our world. It encourages its participants to engage with the story through various media. These include original online content, pervasive-style interactions and performance events linked to major arts festivals across Toronto throughout 2012. By charting the rise and fall of ByoLogyc, a fictional biotech corporation, ZED.TO is an investigation into the hubris of mankind in its hurry to innovate and improve itself – regardless of the price.

This location based story stretches the boundaries of actor, audience, stage and experience. It gives an audience an immersive experience that can be accessed through a variety of outlets from online, live events, live theatre experiences and a variety of other media. This project is a great way to get immersed in the world of ARGs and experience location based storytelling first hand.

Transmedia 101 presents: ARG 101: ZED.TO from 7-9pm on Tuesday, July 17th at InterAccess Electronic Media Arts Center.

Transmedia 101 is a community building initiative that encourages collaboration between both transmedia professionals and creatives, innovators, & instigators from ancillary industries/interests who desire to learn more about how to apply transmedia strategies to their properties & projects.

Anthea Foyer is a digitnista who makes beautiful things using technology. She believes wonderful things happen when worlds collide – on and offline. She is also one of the organizers of Transmedia 101.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.