Transmedia Storytelling and Gameplay in Pandemic 1.0

Kasper Friis Hansen

Studenteropgave: Speciale


This thesis engages with the concept of transmedia. The object of interest is the concept of transmedia and its relation to storytelling and gameplay. The main approach is a theoretical investigation of transmedia aesthetics through logics of storytelling, fiction, and gameplay and their relation to describing and thus also designing transmedia experiences. An exemplary case analysis of Pandemic 1.0 is used to illustrate the theory and limit the investigations of a complex multidisciplinary subject matter. Previous research on transmedia storytelling and transmedia practice by Henry Jenkins, Christy Dena and Jane McGonigal is used to suggest characteristics of transmedia practice and a definition that does not presuppose the aesthetics of either storytelling or gameplay. Among the characteristics are the combination of the semiotic modes of game and story, multimodality as described by Gunther Kress and Theo Van Leeuwen and cybertextuality as described by Espen Aarseth. A framework for aesthetics in transmedia gameplay is investigated through Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman's work on game design, Jesper Juul's studies on games and fictional worlds, and the experimental game genres associated with transmedia practice by Christy Dena. These are described by Jane MacGonigal as ubiquitous games and by Montola, Stenros, and Waern as pervasive games. The thesis argues that both game and story can serve as contexts of interpretation for navigating transmedia fiction. It is necessary for such contexts to be communicated clearly through metacommunication, a concept suggested by Gregory Bateson. This can be done either via paratext or during the activity itself. The latter is necessary if transmedia fiction is to retain its participatory practices of allowing users to share and spread content, not to mention contributing with their own. In some cases, this is hindered by a specific immersive aesthetic that does not allow for non-diegetic communication. This thesis suggests that transmedia designers must acknowledge their need to metacommunicate and that interpretive contexts are consciously upheld by users, thus removing the argument for an immersive aesthetic. Furthermore, it suggests that less formally structured play and the concept of world simulation can be fruitful design principles in transmedia fiction.

UddannelserKommunikation, (Bachelor/kandidatuddannelse) Kandidat
Udgivelsesdato31 aug. 2012


  • Transmedia