Monday, April 16, 2012

Transmedia and fiction in television

I read an interesting article on the success story of Game of Thrones a couple of days ago, over at Lost Remote. GoT has been one of the transmedia marketing success stories I’ve pointed to in talks and articles over the past year, what with their ”Smells of Westeros” and ”Food of Westeros” campaigns. I was very happy to see that HBO were rewarded with an audience for the first episode of the second season that was 73% up on the first episode of the first season.

Now, the social media buzz around GoT is indeed remarkable. HBO are evidently doing all they can to maintain and grow this buzz, and it would seem it is paying off handsomely.

In the article I read, no one was speaking about ”transmedia” per say. Still, the principles of transmedia storytelling are what made all the social buzz possible. George R.R. Martin has created an enormously rich story world, he already has a great number of story archs up in the air and the mythology and the narrative superstructure are both firmly in place.

This is what I would recommend anyone thinking of transmedia and television, in a drama/fiction setting, to take note of and even replicate. Making a mythology as rich as that of GoT might seem excessive, but look at the possibilities it generates for entry points, character interaction, fan art and fan fiction and so on!

If you’re working on a fantasy story, build it all as eloquently as GoT, or at least strive to. If your fiction is more of the contemporary kind, make your own jigsaw puzzle out of facts from the world around you, glueing the pieces together with just the right amount of fiction from yourself and your creative brain.

Above all, plan for the audience to join in. The HBO example in the article above is getting there. I do believe there are new routes to explore and new ways to implement, to tie the audience even tighter to your content.


Sara Thacher said...


I actually think GoT is an interesting case when you're talking expanded narratives, because (as I understand it) Martin strictly disallowed any additional growth/exploration of narrative not explicitly covered in the book. This makes the potential for thing that take advantage of the richness of the world – like direct character interaction almost impossible.

What I think is remarkable are the ways that Campfire has found for fans to 'join in' without directly working with the narrative. You're right, they do take advantage of the richness of the world – but strenuously avoid the actual narrative/characters within that world.

Instead of finding ways for the characters to make the leap out into our world and surround us (by communicating on twitter, blogging, calling the 'Talk to a Targaryen' Hotline), they invite people to enter into the world of GoT (by choosing an affinity for a particular house, eating their food, empathizing with their weather, etc.)

Simon said...


thanks for your comment, and yes, I agree. I was not aware of the fact that Martin had made such demands, although it makes perfect sense from his point of view. But yes, with something as rich as the foundations on which GoT is built, the very soil of the world can be an entry point into the world of the story - as Campfire have proven.

I actually like this better. Having Daenerys actively updating her Twitter account would be at odds with the feel of the story itself; better to let the audience immerse themselves at their leisure.

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