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44. Avoid Cross-Media Remediation

44. Avoid Cross-Media Remediation

Simple enough…

Fine, here’s the quote from Futurismic,

“The process of remediation involving video games is a simple one. Films and books are stripped of their characters, plot-lines and genre tropes, these elements are then rendered in CGI and used to frame an emergent action-based story that frequently has little or nothing to do with any of these things. For example, consider Electronic Arts’ 2006 adaptation of Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather (1972). The film is a story about the betrayal, scheming and violence that lies beneath the genteel exterior of Italian-American organized crime and the ways in which the bond of family can turn an honest man into a murderous criminal.

The game of The Godfather includes much of the film as backdrop, but chooses to focus instead upon the bit about becoming a murderous criminal. In the film there are only a handful of murders and each of these is treated as genuinely horrifying. In the game, dozens of business owners are tortured into paying protection money while in the back of their shops lurk men armed with machine guns who need to be murdered by the hundreds in order to progress through the game. In this case, the process of remediation reduced an epic family melodrama to the pornography of relentless carnage and brutality.”

Remediation, the process of remixing and re-imagining content is important. We’ve talked about creating content across platforms and how it can drastically improve the audiences experience. Where things go wrong is when storytellers ignore the parts of the story that made it interesting in the first place. In The Godfather example, the game mixes out the deep characterization and strong plot positions that define The Godfather and reduces them to a hack-and-slash gore-fest.

Instead of improving the story as a whole, giving us something new and different – it dilutes it. This is the hidden danger of Transmedia. If you are going to create a new thread to an old story, you have to ask yourself whether this thread adds something to the overall arc, and if so – what?

Star Wars has done this well with its franchise. When it releases games or books or television shows, they serve to expand the story. They are (mostly) consistent and in general they improve the overall arc as opposed to diluting it. Below is a clip from Godfather and a clip from Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.

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