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The Benefits of Prototyping

[An excerpt from the article Stop Guessing and Start Prototyping published in Casual Connect Magazine]

In order to understand why you should be prototyping, you must first understand the associated benefits.  The overriding benefit, of course, is that prototyping increases the chance of producing a successful and polished product. In addition, here is just a partial list of the ancillary benefits I have encountered over the years:

  • Prototyping clarifies requirements. Requirements often change during the development cycle of a product. Prototyping ensures that requirements are defined more fully.
  • Prototyping helps set expectations. We all have our own expectations, and in many organizations, these expectations come from a variety of stakeholders who sometimes have conflicting interests (accountants, sales people, marketing, developers, etc.). Setting expectations early on with a prototype can help avoid problems later in the development cycle.
  • Prototyping helps to identify issues or gaps early on. Seeing a concept in action allows stakeholders and developers to fill in gaps or identify potential issues early on. These issues can relate specifically to almost any branch of a company: legal, marketing, development, etc.   For example, a media company may have a great idea for an app featuring a character that flies.  However, the branding department may determine that this is “off brand” as the character is supposed to be afraid of heights.  These are the types of issues that a company wants to flush out early on.
  • Prototyping introduces a user perspective early in the process. With a working prototype, developers and stakeholders can get perspective via focus groups and internal testing early on. This allows the team to shift direction as needed, based on user feedback.
  • Prototyping minimizes risks. When prototyping, there is less risk of allocating time and budget to a flawed concept. The teams can then focus on winning ideas and weed out lesser ideas more quickly.
  • Prototyping minimizes costs. Seeing a game in action early on allows developers to innovate and make revisions early in the development process, thus limiting expenditures on flawed functionality or concepts.

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What is Transmedia?

Transmedia is storytelling across multiple forms of media, with each element making distinctive contributions to a user’s understanding of the overall story universe.

In some cases user actions affect the experience of content across multiple platforms (example: reaching the end of an online game unlocks a special web video with more story insights or scanning a QR code in a novel sows a video or image related to the story itself).

When does Transmedia start?

Transmedia can start at the inception of the idea or can be put into place as the story evolves, today more and more creators are mindful of the various platforms available for their creations.

It is common for most people to think that Transmedia must start from a specific medium but that is not the case, in transmedia the starting point of the storyline can and has come from a number of sources such as:

  • a game such (example: Angry Birds)
  • a comic book (example: Batman, Superman)
  • a novel (example: Lord of The Rings, Hunger Games)
  • a television show (example: CSI)
  • a movie (example: The Matrix, Avatar)
  • a toy (example: Transformers, Lego)

Transmedia Platforms:

Technology has created tools that allow users to interact with content as never before. The ability to create storytelling vehicles and spreading these stories through different channels is changing the rules and creating a potential value proposition that is too big to ignore.

Film moving image, audio, non-interactive, fixed interaction time, passive viewing reaches a wide audience, commercial
Episodic Shows moving image, audio, non-interactive, fixed interaction time, passive viewing, shorter, episodic episodes extend the duration of the work over time, changes the nature of how audience engages, overall extended narrative
Gaming interactive, animated/moving graphics, music, sound effects, no fixed interaction time players become an extension of the story world: they can act as a character, manipulate the world, and possibly form their own narrative
Toys & Merchandise (action figures, costumes, clothing, trading cards) playable, physical, wearable, tactile hands-on media, collectible, allows fans to become part of the world physically, helps form ideas of collective identity and competition and passion
Music (Song) only audio, fixed interaction time, single media environment (just sound). sing-alongable, shared
Artwork (Photography, Painting, etc.) only image, no fixed interaction time, single media environment (just image). highlights key moments, encourages hardcore fans to appreciate and engage further
Literature (Novels) written word, more detailed, fixed time encourages reader’s imagination
Graphic Novels, Comics written word, images, expressive, fixed time encourages reader’s imagination
Social Media videos, audio, text, image, networked, quick and fast connectivity, interactive direct interaction with the personal audience member – personalization, encourages audience participation, bridge between the story world and the real world, the ability to connect with and influence the story outcomes.
Experiential (theme-parks, installations, etc.) Reaches all senses Immerses fans in the universe physically and can include environment, food, drink, and experience.


Transmedia Examples & Case Studies:

There are many great Transmedia examples, here is one Transmedia Case Study that I particularly enjoyed watching:

Case Study – Bravo / Top Chef Transmedia / Lisa Hsia, EVP, Bravo:

For more examples or to chat about your Transmedia Strategy please feel free to contact us.