Exploring the Many Worlds of Transmedia

Posts by angelam

Reality Ends Here: Educational Fun

Reality Ends Here: Educational Fun

By on Dec 5, 2013 in Featured |

ARGs (alternate reality games) are a transmedia genre that are typically run to promote a greater idea or event (e.g., Why So Serious) or for simple fun.  What isn’t common is to see an ARG run for educational purposes.  Reality Ends Here, originally created as Jeff Watson’s Ph.D dissertation project, was designed by Watson, Simon Wiscombe, and Tracy Fullerton, all associated with the USC School of Cinematic Arts.  The game has been run for every freshman class since its creation in 2011.  It combines aspects of alternate reality games with card game mechanics to give students a new, different, and exciting way to begin their time at USC.   The game begins when the “Reality Committee” communicates with students during orientation and given a set of puzzles to solve.  Once those are completed, players can find a secret office where they are sworn in with an oath and given a deck of cards to begin their game.  Students must combine cards to generate creative prompts for media projects, known as Deals, and then create a project based around those prompts.  Their projects are scored by the Reality Committee and given points to be tallied up online.  Students get the opportunities to make new friends very quickly as alliances immediately begin to form, to explore themselves both creatively and academically, and to potentially meet with industry leaders and alumni. The game brings an interesting concept to typical ARGs – putting it in an academic setting for the sake of being academic.  Being a school for the cinematic arts, running this kind of ARG at USC makes perfect sense.  It begins the students’ educational journey into film and media studies through participation in a game that encourages them to be creative and be team players.  They are learning aspects about working in film and media before they even begin to take their classes at the university. Henry Jenkins interviewed the co-conspirators of the game and posted it on his blog, showing that this game was important enough and big enough to constitute the attention of one of the top transmedia analysts.  In the interview, Watson mentions that his goal in creating the game (and in his doctoral research) was to connect theory...

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How Transmedia Brought Firefly Back to Life

How Transmedia Brought Firefly Back to Life

By on Nov 24, 2013 in Featured |

If you love space travel combined with the western joys of cowboys, then you would enjoy Firefly.  Created by Joss Whedon, it is a television series following the story of Malcolm Reynolds, captain of the Firefly class ship called Serenity, and his crew as they go about their rather illegal trading and transporting business while also hiding from the Alliance, the governing body of this universe.  There is action, romance, comedy, gunfights, space battles – everything you could ever want from a television series. In late 2002, the series came in out of nowhere and took the country by storm.  Despite being shown out of order, causing confusion with the storyline and backgrounds of the characters, it still became popular.  It was interesting and new, high up on the list of well-written space western franchises.  The characters were lovable and relatable, from the crotchety yet humorous Captain Mal to the young, messed-up-in-the-brainpan River, to the religious and peaceful yet strangely good with guns Shepherd Book.  It was possible the fastest creation of a cult-like fandom in the history of fandoms, with the series spanning only eleven episodes aired so far.  Fans created forums, calling themselves ‘browncoats’ after the rebel fighters in the series.  They wrote fanfiction.  They went crazy over these characters and the world they lived in, creating a fanverse before the first season had even finished.  At the time, all that existed was the television series; soon enough, however, it would grow beyond even Whedon’s expectations for it. Before anyone could really get a grasp on the series, it ended.  The show only had fourteen episodes, and had shown only eleven episodes on TV.  It was cancelled before it got a chance to shine.  Fans were shocked.  Where had their new favorite show gone?  What about River and Simon’s flight from the Alliance, Inara and Mal’s constant romantic tension, Kaylee’s growing affection for Simon, Jayne’s one-liners and huge guns, Wash’s sarcastic comments and humor, Zoe’s sturdiness as Mal’s second-in-command?  The reasons for the cancellation are listed as low ratings, but no other solid reasons for cancelling the show were offered up.  It was an expensive show, of course – space battles, elaborate costumes, elaborate scenery, plus cast and...

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