Rite of passage : developing emergent systems for transmedia design

Randall, Benjamin Gardner
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Transmedia design is a vital and growing practice in digital entertainment. In transmedia storytelling, a narrative is told across multiple physical and digital platforms. By taking inspiration from the interactive stories and emergent systems found in video games, I hypothesize that well-designed visual art, music, and interaction can deliver a compelling transmedia narrative. As a case study, I recount and analyze the conception, design, development, execution, and iteration of an original transmedia franchise, Rite of Passage. By drawing comparisons between pixel and ASCII art, trance music, the philosophy of the microcosm, and the dynamics of community gathering, I describe a personal process of worldbuilding for transmedia design. My collaborators and I then reveal the world of Rite of Passage through a cassette release, various forms of graphic design, and the production of an immersive audiovisual event. In order to develop the visual content for this production, I explore a media design workflow consisting of intertwined technical development and aesthetic curation. In this workflow, the technical development of generative visual systems and the curation of those systems result in a dialogue between the designer and the computer. A cohesive narrative is thus devised retroactively in accordance with the established worldbuilding. I consider this an emergent system, which is a system that experiences unique properties and behaviors that arise from the interactions of its individual elements.