The television network Nickelodeon is a leading children’s programming creator, attracting kids with ages ranging from toddlers to nostalgic teenagers. With the growing digital fluency of young children, the network has incorporated this changing culture into a few recent shows by creating websites within the shows that are also accessible in real life. The two most popular shows that do this are iCarly (2007-12) and Victorious (2010-13). Both created by Dan Schneider as multi-camera teen sitcoms, iCarly is centered around a web show created by the characters that has content viewable at a real-life website of the same name, and Victorious features a twitter-esque social network (The Slap) used by the characters also with a real-life counterpart. Each show and its website serve as examples of transmedia storytelling, giving exemplar instances of world-building and migratory cues.
As first described by Henry Jenkins in “Transmedia Storytelling 101,” the idea of transmedia storytelling is generally defined today as storytelling across multiple platforms. With multiple platforms to tell a story, creators are able to a rich and detailed world through a process called “worldbuilding” (Jenkins). Even before iCarly and Victorious, the loosely connected stories of TV producer Dan Schneider have created a world with overlapping characters and unique commercial products, most notably the Apple-parody company that creates the tech items used by characters of the shows, like the PearPhone and PearPad. But with websites created for the show (in the fictional world and real life), world-building has been brought to a new extreme, in which children who visit these sites are able to immerse themselves in the fictional worlds of their beloved characters. A prime example of this is the personalized Profile pages (pictured above) of Victorious characters on the mock-social network, The Slap. While obviously not for actual people, these profiles act as another part of the Schneider world as kids view content “created” by the characters. Similarly, on iCarly.com, website visitors are able to read pretend blog posts written by the characters. With the character-created content of these websites, Schneider is able to create a more immerse fictional universe for kids to explore.
Above is a screen capture of part of the iCarly.com homepage. While very colorful and appealing to children, this website would have very lacking traffic if it were not for the countless references or “Migratory Cues” to it within the iCarly TV show. These references are meant to push viewers of these shows over to the shows’ respective website. With the iCarly website being an integral part of the iCarly TV show plot, migratory cues come several times in an episode, either just by name or a mock-screenshot of the webpage somewhere in the show. While not as significant to the plot as iCarly, Victorious achieves several migratory cues to The Slap by creative status-update intros and outros (example pictured below) each time the show goes to or returns from commercial. The incorporation of these websites into the shows is an effective way to entice the young viewers to continue the storytelling adventure in the related digital space.
ICarly.com. Nickelodeon, n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2015.
“ICarly.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2015.
Jenkins, Henry. “Transmedia Storytelling 101.” Confessions of an Aca-Fan. Henry Jenkins, 22 Mar. 2007. Web. 21 Feb. 2015.
TheSlap. Nickelodeon, n. c. Web. 22 Feb. 2015.
“Victorious.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2015.