Transmedia, Cross-Platform and Multimedia

RELATED TERMS: Affordances; Mode and Medium

” … stories and their worlds are crucially shaped by the affordances and limitations of the media in which they are realized.” (Ryan and Thon, 2014: 2)

The design of narrative environments generally is considered to be a transmedia practice, taking advantage of the affordances offered by different media, from architectural, to artefactual, pictorial and written, so that the visitor-participant has to work to piece the content together from each platform, but this does not mean that it may not on occasion also utilise cross-platform distribution or multimedia capabilities.

Henry Jenkins (2016) contends that it is important to distinguish among the terms transmedia, cross-platform and multimedia.

Transmedia, as an adjective, refers to some kind of structured relationship between different media platforms and practices.

Transmedia approaches are:

Cross-Platform refers to the channel of delivery or means of distribution, such as cinema release, online streaming or sale of DVDs. The different channels are not related additively but are simply alternatives for each another. The reader-spectator need not visit all of these hubs; one will suffice. They will not learn anything new, content-wise, by viewing them all.

Multimedia refers to the case where a single app or website might include video, audio, text, and simulations. The example of a multimedia project cited by Jenkins is Snow Fall in the New York Times.

A transmedia project, on the other hand, would distribute these experiences across platforms so that the audience has actively to work to assemble the pieces, often through networked interpretation.


Jenkins, H (2006) Convergence Culture. New York: New York University Press.

Jenkins, H. (2016) Transmedia what?, Immerse. Available at: (Accessed: 8 April 2021).

Ryan, M.-L. and Thon, J.-N. (eds) (2014) Storyworlds across media: toward a media- conscious narratology. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.