Exploring the Many Worlds of Transmedia

Posts Tagged "immersion"

Brains, Baudrillard and Bodily Immersion

Brains, Baudrillard and Bodily Immersion

By on Dec 7, 2013 in Featured |

Floaty philosophy and media forms have certainly not been uncommon bed fellows in human cultural history.  We love to implant our complex musings and conceptualizations of abstract and mysterious human thought into our stories, as it arguably plays a crucial role in helping us to feel immersed and connected with the interactions between people and other such entities in the stories we tell.  Science also has a strong role within storytelling in that it similarly builds narrative worlds we can identify with and feel connected to, but for the longest time scientific thought itself has been unable to touch on these qualities of immersive reality and human empathy within our media forms that make these stories so real to us.  However, the discovery of a new type of neuron in the brain, the mirror neuron, might just carry some implications that will change all that. These mirror neurons were originally discovered by Italian neurophysiologist Giacomo Rizzolatti and his merry crew of science men who had placed electrodes on the ventral premotor cortex of macaque monkeys in order to record and study the firing of neurons that known to have a close connection to hand and mouth actions.  As it was subsequently discovered, the neurons in the brain of a monkey observing another monkey putting food to his mouth would fire identically to the neurons firing in the other monkey’s brains as he performed the actions.  Soon confirmed to function the same for humans as well, these mirror neurons essentially assume the perspective by firing as if the person observing was performing the observed action.  Soon after the discovery of these mirror neurons in the premotor cortex, supplemental research proved their existence in the primary somatosensory cortex as well- a part of the brain closely linked with various kinds of sensation. While these discoveries came bundled with a load of new, potential implications about human thought, it was Vilayanur Ramachandran whose astute reflections and research on this newly discovered neurological phenomenon, which his TED Talk discusses in terms even an undergraduate Anthropology major can understand, carry so much relevance to immersion within fictional narratives.  In his TED talk, Ramachandran’s makes two main points, each corresponding with the mirror neurons in...

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Canonicity and Storytelling in RPG’s

Canonicity and Storytelling in RPG’s

By on Dec 7, 2013 in Featured |

Some months ago now, as I was perusing the Dragon Age Facebook page, the DA team had posted a wonderful piece of fan art by a Deviant Artist named Alteya who’s other work can be found Here. I was initially very impressed with the piece of art, but what truly astonished me was the amount of controversy that this seemingly innocuous piece of art had managed to create.  This depiction of a fan’s Hawke caused out cry about what constituted the “canon” Hawke in Dragon Age II. On one side of argument, we have a collection of players (mostly, if not exclusively male) that insist that Hawke is canonically male.   On the other side, which is much less polarized by gender, arguing against the notion of male Hawke as being canon or the notion of their being a canon at all. screenshot taken of fan discussion on Dragon Age Facebook page screenshot taken of fan discussion on Dragon Age Facebook page screenshot taken of fan discussion on Dragon Age Facebook page screenshot taken of fan discussion on Dragon Age Facebook page This got me thinking, did I believe in the idea of a canonical version of the story?  My immediate answer was “no” but then I stopped to think about it.  If we treat the game as a text, then the text has multiple narratives it can tell and each of those narratives have a host of different readings.  The game itself adapts and changes based on the decisions a player makes at the time of character creation and more so throughout gameplay.   My favorite initial character set up of “Female” “Mage” Hawke leads to different sorts of narratological interpretations then a friend of mine’s set up of “Male” “Warrior” Hawke. If we consider the narrative as a sort of nebula of possibilities, each decision we make impacts the potential outcomes. At the outset, we narrow our narrative’s potentiality fairly significantly. The choice of mage vs. non-mage is rather important, it dictates which of your Hawke’s siblings survives and how your character will be perceived (as much as the game is capable of handling such things) in the world.  Mage Hawke is just going to logically be more sympathetic...

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President Bartlet and Kevin McCallister Tweet for Transmedia

President Bartlet and Kevin McCallister Tweet for Transmedia

By on Dec 5, 2013 in Featured |

Much of transmedia campaigns rely on the willingness of the audience to participate, which is generally influenced by the level of immersion in the campaign.  In alternate reality games (ARGs), the level of immersion is high because if there are no interested players, the game will not be very successful.  In transmedia campaigns like The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, although audience participation is not necessary for the story, viewers are encouraged to ask the characters questions and interact with them through various social media means in order to add a level of realness and to more fully immerse the viewers.  For many, interactivity does not end with the end of an ARG or the end of an Internet show.  There can be groups of fans who decide that whatever text they were engaged in has more to offer.  This is where Twitter shines.  From December 10-15, 2010, the Geek Squad did a live-tweet session of the movie Home Alone.  The television show, The West Wing, ended in 2006.  There are over 30 Twitter accounts for different characters from the show that tweet and interact with each other.  Although the West Wing accounts are a better example of a completely immersive transmedia, the Home Alone accounts have their own strength and are still an excellent example of how levels of immersion can vary in transmedia, and thus influence the success of the campaign. The television show, The West Wing, followed President Josiah (Jed) Bartlet and his staff through his years in the White House.  Although there are over 30 Twitter accounts for various characters from various periods on the show, the most prolific Tweeters are Josh Lyman, the Deputy Chief of Staff (@joshualyman); his wife and former secretary, Donna Moss (@donatella_moss); and President Bartlet (@pres_bartlet).  These accounts are run by anonymous people.  This is one of the main strengths of The West Wing accounts: they maintain the reality of the characters.  The writers of these accounts do not publicize their own names or identities.  In an interview with the magazine Entertainment Weekly, “Josh Lyman,” discussed his inspiration for creating the account and commitment to the character of Josh.  The account writer told Entertainment Weekly, “I am strict about breaking character and...

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