Resident Evil is a media franchise that started in 1996 with the release of the first video game of the same title. Resident Evil’s platform of origin was the original PlayStation gaming console created by Sony. The game was both published and developed by the Japanese video game company Capcom, and falls under the genres of Survival horror, Third-person shooter, and First-person shooter. Since the release of the game, Resident Evil has expanded its franchise over many different platforms, including more digital media, with the release of their many films, as well as print media with the addition of their comic book published by Marvel Comics in the last 1990’s. I decided to use Resident Evil as a prime example of transmedia storytelling because of the unique way in which it evolved to become present on more than one platform. I usually see movies turn into video games, or comics turn into video games and movies, but never a video game inspire the creation of a comic book and then a movie in that order.
Henry Jenkins, author of Searching for the Origami Unicorn, explain what transmedia storytelling is when he states that it, “unfolds across multiple media platforms, with each new text making a distinctive and valuable contribution to the whole…and any given product is a point of entry into the franchise as a whole” (95-96). Here, Jenkins is describing a franchise such as Resident Evil. Because of the video games, movies, and comic book, the story of zombie outbreaks caused by the evil corporation known in the Resident Evil universe as Umbrella, and the bad-ass heroes who are called in to stop it, gets to be told in more than one way, from different perspectives, and in multiple storylines. I’m someone who was introduced to this world via the 2009 release of Resident Evil 5 for the Xbox 360. I learned shortly after that there were both movies and a comic book series based off of the game.
I believe that transmedia storying is beneficial if the creator of some form of media is trying to expand to become a franchise. There is definitely more money to be made if you go about in this fashion. However, I failed to mention before that the comic book portion of this franchise did not prove to be a lucrative as the movies and video games. After Marvel published the fist comic, it was then taken over by the Japanese comic book company, Windstorm, who struggled to keep the comics relevant. Though movies and games are still being created, the comic book form of Resident Evil had its final run in 2009 and hasn’t had new comic printed since. I think this just goes to show that not all forms of media work for certain ideas and stories. Not every hit television show also needs a game you download and play on your phone. Sometimes, it just doesn’t work out well or make a useful contribution, like Jenkins says.
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Jenkins, Henry. “The Origami Unicorn.” Convergence Culture, 93-130. New York University Press, 2007.