Everyone is talking about the same thing: The television adaptation of The Last of Us on HBO MAX has been such a resounding success that it promises to change many perceptions in the entertainment industry and has awakened the potential of transmedia storytelling to the masses. But long before 2023, Mark of Odin became a pioneer in this field by establishing a literary model that merged the experience of reading with an extended transmedia universe that allowed readers to extend their experience and learn about the story from new angles and views.
It was in 2005, when I had the first idea that would give shape to Mark of Odin, when I was clear about one thing: I did not want to publish just one book, but rather I wanted to take advantage of what I had learned and enjoyed in the videogames industry, to boost that story that I was beginning to craft. I wanted to design a system that offers a progression experience similar to online games when reading books and their bonus chapters (DLC’s) and extended stories (Content Updates). I wanted to do it by making sure that these contents not only offered new visions in text format, but that they did so with illustrations, 3d renderings, photos, videos, music and much more.
Since the official release of Mark of Odin in 2012, in addition to the first three published books, I have released six bonus chapters and over a hundred extended content. I have come to offer soundtrack musical themes, such as the one composed by Knut Avenstroup Haugen, but also to compose and record a song with the artist Milena Brody, to later integrate it into Mark of Odin: Ragnarok creating an alter ego character of her . For audiovisual content, I have relied on renowned artists such as Michael Komarck or Manu Nieto, as well as taking advantage of the potential of Artificial Intelligence, years before (2018) that it was something that was booming for the rest of the world.
With the recently published thriller The Stone Lotus I sought to maintain this philosophy of transmedia narrative, integrating music throughout the story, as an integrating element in it. The musical themes being described in the narration, but also giving the option of listening to them at the same time that they are read through the playlist on Spotify. Also, recreate all the main characters from the novel in a photo-realistic style taking advantage of the use of Artificial Intelligence.
These days there have been several media outlets that have shared interesting editorials on this subject, such as GamesIndustry.Biz’s on cross-media and Wired’s venture that after The Last of US all entertainment will become transmedia. Both articles review how in the last two decades there have been attempts to carry out transmedia integration with intellectual properties, but none have been as successful as The Last of Us. And it is that one of the key points of this is that it is not just about adapting, but about generating complementary organic content that offers additional incentives with respect to the original material-source-format.
We have seen previous examples that have been huge failures or, if we want to be nice, have not achieved the expected success as massively known intellectual properties. Yes, I’m talking about TV series like Willow, Obi Wan, Resident Evil, Halo and other productions that have gone unnoticed. All for seeking to make only adaptations totally unrelated to the original source and in which quality and narrative fidelity have not prevailed. Making radical changes, grating the absurd, forgetting that if changes are introduced, they must provide constructive elements that generate added value (remember episode 3 of The Last of Us as a clear example of this).
Long before this, the closest thing, in the literary field, to what I proposed with Mark of Odin, was the supposed transmedia universe of Pottermore. Initially it seemed that it was going to be something very big, but it ended up being diluted by failing to offer new options to enjoy additional new content, but simply giving mini games and bringing cosmetic innovations to Harry Potter fans.
My hope is that with the change in mentality that The Last of Us is forcing in Hollywood and other decision-making centers, a project like Mark of Odin can finally have more acceptance and options for expansion. Not for nothing, in addition to the transmedia universe that I have created, I designed this dream from the beginning so that it could make the leap to be complemented in the form of cinema, television, anime, videogames… And that is something that I continue to work on daily, not for nothing currently I’m going to spend the next few months in Asia, with a very important visit to Japan, for example.
In 2019, during my networking round to publicize my IP in Los Angeles, the widespread feedback I received was phenomenal. With comments assuring that not even large publishers had the capacity to produce something like this. Let’s not forget something very obvious, creating a true transmedia universe requires not only money, but a lot of dedication, loyalty and heart.
At that time the main handicap of Mark of Odin was having higher numbers. We had not yet reached 50,000 books worldwide. Right now we are close to 140,000, despite having a thousand and one obstacles for being an independent project. I am confident that the change in trend favors us and we will soon be able to make the great transmedia leap that will place Mark of Odin in its rightful place in the history of entertainment and books.
I hope that many will see the advantages of transmedia storytelling and that soon we will be able to enjoy more well-constructed and designed stories in a complementary way with the original source of our favorite intellectual properties, no matter where they come from (books, video games, cinema, etc.) .
Do you sign up for the transmedia movement?