The Walking Dead

I am infected. The Walking Dead Fever has hit me. After long hearing about the virtues of the comics I began watching AMC’s adaptation of the series via Netflix on a recent trip to the States. To say that the series is compelling is an understatement. Having finished the first two seasons my partner and I are irrevocably hooked.


I have also been tracking the various transmedia components of the story, including a series of webisodes, a Facebook social game and The Talking Dead: a companion television series that features behind-the-scenes content including bonus videos and interviews with stars from the show. As a young transmedia professional (and, naturally, avid lover of multi-platform storytelling) I am excited by the extra glut of content available to me between seasons; the webisodes are particularly compelling for their ability to add nuance to the story by exploring scenes and plot points from the television series in more detail. For example, the first series of webisodes explores the history and origins of “bike girl”, a badly mutilated walker who Rick encounters in the first episode of the series.

Given my enthusiasm for the series I couldn’t wait to get stuck into these tasty extras; however, engaging with the content I love hasn’t been easy. Well, some aspects have been easier to access than others, but even then it’s been difficult for me to access content via official channels. For example, I had to access the webisodes via Youtube because I couldn’t access them on ACMs site due to geo-blocking. Luckily, users on Youtube allowed me to by-pass this problem; however, it seems illogical to block certain demographics from engaging with popular content, especially in this case, given the global success of the series. I experienced the same problem trying to access The Talking Dead. Because I was blocked due to my geographical location from accessing content on the site I was forced, once again, to trawl Youtube. Doing so is a more time-consuming task than following the neat stream of serial content on the official site.
Generally speaking, I don’t mind having to access content shared by other internet users; however, I can’t help but feel locked out. Being blocked from accessing content on the official website makes me feel rather like the outcast at high-school; wanting desperately to sit at the cool lunch table, but only ever watching from afar.

Curse them and their official lunch burgers.

The difference, I guess, is that I am part of this group! I want in with the official community with whom I share so many nerdy loves! Whilst I don’t mind accessing content on Youtube I would rather feel like part of the “official” movement. Heck, I’ll admit it. I love being marketed to, when it’s done right. I want to get excited about the story and the brand is a great mechanism for generating a sense of community and shared love. It channels the fervor surrounding the series. For aspiring transmedia producers there is a lesson to be learnt from this: don’t neglect or underestimate the benefit of dedicated fans. If it weren’t for the fact that I keep getting blocked at every turn I could spend hours on the AMC website, browsing photos, watching videos and potentially checking out other series’ from the network. Youtube, on the other hand, is a one-stop-shop for this fan-girl. I’m not emotionally invested in the brand. In the transmedia industry where digital media is becoming increasingly significant as a platform for additive content, embracing your audience in an inclusive story experience driven by branded content has never been so important.

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