Kingdom Hearts: Transmedia Storytelling and Its Audience



Transmedia storytelling creates a more interactive experience, brings individuals together in a community as they share information, and results in a more active audience that creates its own transmedia objects. However, it raises a lot of question on who should be allowed to make these extentions because as Janet Murray suggests, the authentication of the narrative comes to question when the audience becomes a media creator.

Murray talks about “multiform stories” as being integral to transmedia story telling in her book Hamlet on the Holodeck. She defines it as “a written or dramatic narrative that presents a single situation or plotline in multiple versions… that would be mutually exclusive in our ordinary experience.”  (30) Kingdom Hearts is a video game that creates a transmedia experience for its audience through the multiform story of how friends Sora, Kairi, and Riku get separated and have to find their way back together by traveling through galaxies. The story takes place across multiple self-contained major, minor, and mini games. ( The story presents clues about the back-stories without elaborating further until much later games. These clues, mixed with a story told out of order, give this game a lot of negative capability (when a narrative creates a mysterious aura around something that the audience can then ponder).  This prompts speculation on certain details, causing the audience to take a much more active role in trying to understand the story. This active participation is a phenomenon Murray predicts.

 The most confusing of these games is the second main one, which begins with a new protagonist, without any explanation. In an effort to solve some of these mysteries, the fandom has created online movies which stringing various clips and action sequences from the game together.

Murray says, “giving the audience access to the raw material of creation runs the risk of undermining the narrative experience.” Her skepticism towards maintaining the authenticity of a narrative is validated because the creator of this movie has a lot of power to make it biased towards certain readings over others. . For example, the clips chosen could suggest a romantic relationship between Sora and Kairi or a merely friendly one. The ability to bastardize certain relationship undermines the intentions of the game-makers.

However, it is exciting because it creates a collective intelligence. The fandom collaborates in the comments to understand this world and the event of the game, drawing on each individual’s experience and expertise, a phenomenon called additive comprehension in the realm of Transmedia studies (something both Henry Jenkins and Murray tackle).


Jenkins, in his blog post “Transmedia Story Telling 101”, says, “encyclopedic ambitions of transmedia text often result in what might be seen as gaps or excess in the unfolding of the story.” This transmedia story telling doesn’t reaveal holes but it does exemplify an audience’s need to archive and organize the information of a narrative to an encyclopedic level.


Maybe the audience shouldn’t be allowed to create transmedia extensions in the interest of authenticity. However, being such active consumer, they will engage in this process and in many ways it enriches their experience and the communities they create around these stories. 


Work Cited

ATRileyProductions. “Kingdom Hearts 2 [Cutscene Movie] Pt.1/3.” YouTube. YouTube, 26 Aug. 2012. Web. 02 Mar. 2014. <;.

 “Kingdom Hearts.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 27 Feb. 2014. Web. 28 Feb. 2014. <;.

Jenkins, Henry. “Transmedia Storytelling 101.” Confessions of an AcaFan. N.p., 22 Mar. 2007. Web. 27 Feb. 2014. <>.

Murray, Janet Horowitz. “Harbingers of the Holodeck.” Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace. New York: Free, 1997. 53. Print.

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By thesilverlining101

One comment on “Kingdom Hearts: Transmedia Storytelling and Its Audience

  1. The first paragraph does an excellent job of drawing the reader in. The post engages with the readings and the terminology from the readings in sophisticated ways—just be sure to define those keywords for readers who might be unfamiliar with the readings and terms (which you do, for the most part). Working the links into the text could be more reader-friendly than placing the links outside the paragraphs in which they are discussed (a reader might be more likely to click on a link if the link is placed inside text that describes its content to the reader). Also, be sure to engage with images in your text to make the images more relevant and meaningful to the reader. Overall, the post does a great job analyzing a specific application of transmedia storytelling while developing some insightful commentary on larger issues surrounding the topic.

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