The Walking Dead Universe: Webisodes

Transmedia storytelling is one of the most prominent examples of how technology is shaping mutlimedia. One of the biggest users of transmedia storytelling is the television show The Walking Dead. Originally a comic series, The Walking Dead has created a popular television series, video game spinoffs, websites devoted to the series, and more. A major transmedia example from the television show is the websiode series. Taking place in the same universe, these webisodes follow different characters’ stories in surviving the zombie apocalypse. The universal problems are all the same as the comics and television show, but the webisodes add a different dimension through new characters and conflicts to create an extension of the series online.

All of the webisodes are available at AMC's website for the show.

All of the webisodes are available at AMC’s website for the show.

One major aspect that draws viewers into the webisodes of The Walking Dead is the idea of worldbuilding. According to Henry Jenkins, worldbuilding creates for the viewer “complex fictional worlds which can sustain multiple interrelated characters and their stories… We are drawn to master what can be known about a world which always expands beyond our grasp” (“Transmedia Storytelling 101”).  Viewers of The Walking Dead use worldbuilding to follow the narrative and its characters in a fantasy world and create ideas of how others in this world are living. As I watch, I always wonder what is going on with other people in different locations of the show’s world. Are people in this world going through similar problems to Rick’s group? Can their location and situation play a role in how they survive? With webisodes, viewers can get answers to these questions. They allow people to expand the view of what this apocalyptic world looks like and how those in the show are dealing with the problems. In essence, worldbuilding allows fans to create their own interpretation of what is happening outside the realm of the show, and the webisodes help give answers to the viewer’s questions.

Who are this people? Where are they? The webisodes answer these questions and expose viewers to new situations within the show's universe.

Who are these people? Where are they? The webisodes answer these questions and expose viewers to new situations within the show’s universe.

The webisodes allow fans to get a glimpse of conflicts from new characters not on the show.

The webisodes allow fans to get a glimpse of conflicts from new characters not on the show.

Similarly, negative capability, which builds strategic gaps in a narrative that help infuse a mystery, makes viewers curious about certain events that require more information or raise questions that are not immediately answered (Murray). In the television series’ first episode, there is a moment where Rick comes across who is now known popularly as “bicycle girl.” The girl, now a walker, is seen near a bicycle that Rick steals in order to get around town. When viewers see this girl who Rick comes back to, they ask questions about who this girl is and why the episode focuses on her so much. These questions are later answered in the webisodes on AMC’s website, where viewers learn the identity of bicycle girl. The idea that questions from a television show can be answered through a medium online allows viewers to learn more about the fictional world while gaining answers to these mysteries. The Walking Dead does a great job of incorporating different storytelling elements that leave the viewer wanting more, and gives the viewer the opportunity to have these questions answered through transmedia forms.

The famous "Bicycle Girl"

The famous “Bicycle Girl.”

Jenkins, Henry. “Transmedia Storytelling 101.” Confessions of an Aca-Fan. Henry Jenkins, 22 Mar. 2007. Web. 21 Feb. 2015. <http://henryjenkins.org/2007/03/transmedia_storytelling_101.html>.

Murray, Janet H. Hamlet on the Holodeck. New York City: The Free Press, A Division of Simon and Schuster Inc., 1997. PDF.

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