Platforms: tightrope

Transmedia is all about platforms. I call them “vectors” myself — I like the image of story being transmitted like a virus over particular physical and event pathways.

Putting together a story, for me, revolves around character. It’s absolutely centered on character. Anything that has to do with structure distracts me from character and gets me thinking all mechanically, and not … the word’s not spiritual, exacly, but it separates me from the heartspace of a thinking being. I end up writing what I think people should say to one another, as opposed to writing down what I hear them say to one another.

So this is a tightrope I walk, and I’m not very good at it yet. I suppose that’s okay — it’s in the falling that I learn what is and isn’t useful for me, and then with analysis and comparison and reflection and observation, refine that into ideas about what may or may not be useful to any storyteller.

Someone asked me if non-digital platforms are legitimate transmedia platforms. Of course they are; you could, without question, put together a transmedia story without a single URL or dedicated smartphone app. All that has to happen is the conveyance of story over more that one vector (heh). I’m reminded of the early computer games, the ones that ran on machines with no inherent hard drive (I’m looking at you, Apple IIC), where the boxes would include things. Not even documents, sometimes, but things. Stories don’t have to be told in words, and an item is as descriptive as a picture. I remember being sorely disappointed with those games, with their beautiful artwork and rich intimations of a broad and detailed universe, only to have chunky graphics and command lines confront me.

Ultimately I much preferred text adventures. There was no pretense of imagery from the game itself — it was up to you to make it. It was freeing, I found.

But back to the tightrope. I’ve taken a few spills, and completely gotten on the wrong rope at least once. I think I’ve sorted matters out for now, but it’s hard to not feel like I’ve wasted a good deal of time and spun my wheels. Oh, well. Onward.

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