Wednesday, August 3, 2011

EXP Podcast #136: Cross-media 'Cast

Today, it feels like more games than ever enjoy an "expanded universe." Books, TV shows, comics, and movies all develop worlds and characters that first appeared in video games. This might be great for devoted fans, but what does it imply about games' abilities to stand on their own? This week, we use Mark Filipowich's article on cross-media storytelling as a starting point for discussing the ways in which supplemental media affect the stories games try to tell. We also lay out some plans for a cross-media adventure that will be the topic for a future show. As always, we're glad to have you all along for the ride and look forward to reading your comments!

Some discussion starters:

- What are some of your favorite examples of game-related cross-media storytelling and why are they effective?
- How can we separate marketing cash-ins from legitimate additions to a game's story?
- Does an abundance of ancillary material degrade in-game content? How can games tell stories that stand on their own?

To listen to the podcast:

- Subscribe to the EXP Podcast via iTunes here. Additionally, here is the stand-alone feed.
- Listen to the podcast in your browser by left-clicking here. Or, right-click and select "save as link" to download the show in MP3 format.
- Subscribe to this podcast and EXP's written content with the RSS link on the right.

Show notes:

- Run time: 32 min 00 sec
- "Games and Cross-Media Storytelling," by Mark Filipowich, via PopMatters
- Music provided by Brad Sucks


  1. Man so this is the second podcast I have listened to and every time I think I have something cool to comment about you end up talking about it during the podcast, perhaps that is why I am enjoying them so much. I thought I had you guys with TF2 and all the valve stuff but there you slipped it in at the end. I really think the valve stuff works because it is so accessible/free. Every other form of cross-media integration just comes off as purely motivated by money and not about improving the game or story. It was interesting that you guys brought up the Cat and the Coupe because it did get me to research the story more than anything any other game has done.

  2. I think it's sometimes overlooked because of its age or negative associations with ARGs, but the audio that came out of the I Love Bees ARG was great.

    Unfortunately, it was so good that it made Halo 2's characters and story seem hollow and lifeless by comparison. I haven't cared about Halo since. But I'll still find those old files and listen to them sometimes. It's sad that audio drama isn't a more popular format.

  3. Hi Durden48,

    Thanks for listening! You bring up a good point about Valve and the way they construct the fiction surrounding their games. In the end, the way they do it is probably more profitable from the more financially-oriented approaches specifically because it engenders good will.

    I always imagine that there is some huge diagram deep within Valve's offices that links all their games into one crazy meta-fiction...

    Hey Blain,

    Good point about ARGs; I hadn't thought about that angle. I agree about Halo: sometimes I feel like its marketing campaign was too strong for its own good. It seems like I remember the plots from the ads more vividly than the games.