Reality versus fiction – where are the boundaries now?

PD James, the crime writer, is 90 years old this month. Interviewed on the BBC she commented that society had changed so much in her lifetime that she sometimes thought that reality today was something she’d invented in her fiction. (

I know what she means. Technology moves so quickly now that nearly all of us have experienced the reality of gadgets first glimpsed in sci-fi movies now sitting on our desktop or in our pockets or handbags. My Android phone certainly has a very cool way of searching for things I (vocally) tell it to – although it is a bit like speaking to a somewhat dim and hard of hearing helper who barely speaks English a bit like Basil Fawlty trying to explain something to Manuel.

We are going to have to get used to this blurring of boundaries between imagination and reality. This month’s edition of Wired magazine ( celebrates what it dubs “The age of transmedia” where story tellers escape the limits of their primary medium in order to take the stories to a place where you can experience them “live”. Transmedia ignores the division between TV and online and cinemas and live events in order not just to promote the core product but to deliver a better story telling experience for the consumer.

Wired cites the recent Doctor Who role playing games launched earlier this summer. Viewers can interact with the new Doctor in two hour games online. And soon the TARDIS comes live to a venue near you with Doctor Who Live in October.

Multi platform fiction is nothing new – it’s really a long tradition. When Universal made a movie of Bram Stoker’s Dracula in 1931 you could have called it a transmedia production.

But Wired suggests that there is a coming revolution in creativity that means that consumers will expect to participate in the story outside of the traditional boundaries, and that great creators of fiction will work across platforms. And where movies go, there will follow the world of advertising. Media planning across platforms will be vital to convey the transmedia creative idea fully, not just a way of reaching the consumer.

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