Location-Agnostic vs. Location-Dependent Transmedia Stories

Designing a transmedia narrative to be location-agnostic also provides the author and audience with more flexibility than designing it to be location-dependent. Location-dependency can take at least three forms:

  • Requiring the user to participate in a narrative or some of its elements at a specific location (e.g. having a gathering at a particular location – typically in the real world but this may also include virtual world locations).
  • Setting “checkpoints” in the narrative that require a user to go to specific loca-tions (e.g. requiring users to visit a specified address to find a clue that leads to the next step of the narrative).
  • Designing the narrative so that user can only interact with it in specific types of environments (e.g. a gory or risqué image or video clip may be appropriate for viewing in private but not in public).

Transmedia narratives and alternate reality games can add significantly to the user experience by making it possible to engage the senses through sights, sounds, smells, and other factors in the environment. However, the location and its use within the narrative must be considered carefully before including location-dependent elements. The designer needs to consider what happens to the user experience of the narrative if individual users visit at different times of the day, encounter different weather conditions, or a major change in the environment occurs (e.g. a building mentioned in the narrative is demolished).

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