Transmedia storytelling is a familiar concept in the discourse of popular media today, whereby the publication of additional storyline and events surrounding a text not only allows its intended receivers to derive further enjoyment from the brand, but also generates considerable profit for those who own the creative rights to the material. For these reasons both corporate and personal, the creators of this content have an innate desire to see the dissemination of their product across many venues of the transmedia landscape, so that their narrative may be told to a larger audience. One example of this type of transmedia storytelling can be found in the case whereby the movie Fight Club was turned into a popular videogame for multiple game consoles in 2004. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fr_NOGPYd9I
Originally spun off from a book of the same name published in 1996, the movie Fight Club was considered somewhat of a financial disappointment in its initial run at the box office in 1999. However, within the span of a few years the movie had its reputation transformed into that of an underground cult classic, and with this new found renown came the incentive to re-market Chuck Palahniuk’s story in the guise of a videogame.
In Fight Club the videogame, the player effectively completes the text by making their way through fighting a list of subsequently harder opponents one at a time, a la Mortal Kombat. This can be accomplished either through the creating of a new character or playing with an ancillary character that has screen presence in the film. In using any of these characters, we come to find out not only their basic fighting style, but also obtain a clearer development of their backstory and see how they perceive the other members of their group in “Project Mayhem”. This plethora of story arcs and seeing how they intersect with one another reflects here the notion of worldbuilding, wherein the impetus for the story is created not only from “individual characters or specific plots, but rather complex fictional worlds which can sustain multiple interrelated characters and their stories” (Jenkins). Furthermore, by allowing the player to choose from a variety of characters, the protagonist comes to fight different opponents in different situations and at different times throughout the narrative. The playthrough from start to finish deals in a multiform narrative, presenting a single plotline in multiple versions (Murray, 30) ensuring that playing through the story more than once never yields the same result.
Finally, Fight Club the videogame can be said to be a “self-reflexive” text as well, albeit a subtle one, due to one surprising example in the design of its unlockable characters. Throughout the film, the protagonists are constantly seen debating whom they would most like to fight in real life, at which one point Abraham Lincoln is mentioned. It is upon defeating the final level that the former president becomes a playable character, as a reward and homage to fans of the film. Thus is transmedia storytelling at its finest.
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.