I Am A Transmedia Consumer

transmedia-wordleHi, my name is Clint and I am a transmedia consumer. I’ve watched video game movies and short series. I’ve read video game comic books. I’ve even been known to dabbled in video game novels from time to time. Whew, that was a difficult thing to get off my chest. Okay, Clint, you’re alright. Take a deep breath and everything will be okay.

Transmedia is kind of a pariah of the game industry right now, but that’s mostly because the books, comics, movies, and shorts aren’t ever very good. There are exceptions, but for the most part transmedia in games almost seems like an after thought, or a marketing ploy to get more people to buy into their product. Which it is, even when it’s good. But I still like digging deep into a game and experiencing the whole world rather than just a select part.

It’s no secret I love video games. I’ve played them for just about as long as I can remember. At first I would go over to my friend’s house where we’d play games through the evening. Many a night were lost to the crazy car combat of Twisted Metal, or the high-flying, princess-saving jumps of Mario. At that moment I just knew video games were my “thing.”

Over the years I started playing more and more story-driven games, namely the Legend of Zelda series. That’s when it all started. I just received The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time for Christmas, along with a strategy guide for the game. Because let’s face it, a 7-year old kid isn’t the brightest when it comes to solving puzzles. Inside the guide, I remember there being detailed analysis of all the game’s enemies and bosses. They had names, and that was the thing that got me. I never really thought of them as named enemies, I just thought of them as “the fast lizard guy” or “spider-crab.” But they had names, and they only showed up in certain areas. It seemed to me, at the time, that Ocarina of Time was some sort of living, breathing world. So I read that strategy guide from cover to cover. I don’t remember much of it now, but man was I a fountain of Zelda knowledge back then.

My obsession over video game worlds diminished for a while after that, and I thought that might have been the last of it. Until 2005, at least. It was mid-April and I was on some video game website. I found this interesting article about a new game coming out, an MMO so to speak, but without the online fees normally associated with them. Seeing as how I was only 14 at the time, and with little money (but really liked the idea of playing an MMO) this seemed like the thing for me. Plus, my birthday was coming up and I thought it’d be a cool thing to ask for as a present. After a few pleases and promises, and an extra chore or two, I was in possession of Guild Wars for the PC. It came with this 100-page book that set up the world in the game and all the different factions, races, and professions.

I kind of lost myself in that world for a little bit. Which seems to be the main thing that goes wrong for me: I just lose myself in a world. I get consumed by it so much that I run out and get the latest Guild Wars novel, knowing full well it’s probably not going to be very well written, but wanting to read it nonetheless. I read up on the world’s history in the Guild Wars wiki, finding it far more interesting than any history class I was taking at the time.

I read the Mass Effect novels and some comics, watched the Dead Space movies, read the in-game lore in Dishonored, I’ve even started retroactively playing games to get the full story (or if that’s too much I’ll spend like two hours reading up on the game through wikis and videos) like I did with The Witcher. I’m even reading the polish book The Witcher is based on. I’m nuts, but I love consuming all this media through different venues. It draws me in like I couldn’t be before. Transmedia allows me to continue experiencing a game world even when I’m out of the game. It’s exciting and fun and sure, I’m probably extremely crazy for doing it, but I’m still going to keep doing it. I hope transmedia continues to be a part of the game industry and more of that content becomes a cohesive whole with quality levels as high as the game itself. Because think of how awesome a Guild Wars novel would be if it were written well.