Devoted Speak Easy E21. “Transmedia” Phenomenon and its Role in GameDev

We are accustomed to associating the term "storytelling" with lengthy journal articles and copywriting. However, tonight, Neel Upadhye, a guest on Devoted SpeakEasy, will revolutionize your perspective. He will elucidate how storytelling played a pivotal role in his creation of legendary games such as Apex Legends, Battlefield, and Star Wars.

The discussion will also delve into a novel and unique phenomenon coined by Neil as "Transmedia."

  • What does this term signify? 
  • What does it feel like to choose between a position at a Hollywood post-Production Studio and a role at Electronic Arts?
  • Why is content crucial in propelling the gaming industry forward? Inspiring answers to these inquiries await you below.

Let's check it out.

What do we know about Neel Upadhye?

Devoted SpeakEasy#21. Neel Upadhye

As Neel himself asserts, storytelling is the passion of his life. Every facet he has touched during his 14-year career is infused with a unique history. By the time of his release, he graduated from USC Film School. That time, he held two enticing offers that any teenager could dream of - the opportunity to work at a Hollywood Post-Production Studio and an editor’s assistant at Electronic Arts. Ultimately, he chose a career at EA, but it was a challenging journey.

For us, enthusiasts of gaming, the choice might seem obvious. However, while he endeavored to embed storytelling into EA products, his former classmates sipped coffee with stars like Seth Rogan or Seth McFarland.

Neil has now earned recognition as a storytelling genius in the gaming industry. His short film based on Apex Legends earned him a Webby nomination, and Daisy Dating secured him an Amazon Prime award. Additionally, Neil collaborated with Lucasfilm on Star Wars and Battlefield.

“...let me inform you about the product, and then you'll buy it…”

Through his work at EA, Neel adeptly illustrates what storytelling entails in the gaming industry. Envision having a genuine content creator at your disposal. The outcome is an abundance of content that demands a unique approach. It's not just about amassing content; it's about effectively utilizing and disseminating it to the public.

It is where the term "Transmedia" comes into play. Its implementation enables us to refine user interaction. The more effectively we can disseminate game content to users through various media channels, the greater the likelihood that players will return to the game, enhancing their overall gaming experience.

It's crucial to recognize that a game is more than just a process; it also involves your efforts to broadcast the game's narrative on social networks. And in achieving this, storytelling becomes an invaluable tool.

So, what the Transmedia is?

"Transmedia" is the term we use to describe the broadcasting of a game story to viewers. While it undoubtedly serves a commercial purpose, it diverges from the conventional advertising we are accustomed to. Instead, it represents a comprehensive narrative shared with users across various social networks and web platforms.

In simple terms, Transmedia aims to captivate users by narrating a story and enticing them to engage in the game actively. It means the player becomes immersed in the gameplay long before entering the game. Consequently, their gaming experience becomes more immersive and diverse, as they are not merely playing but actively contributing to the character's story.

Working in a Startup VS Working in a Company: Is there a different approach?

Over his 14-year tenure at EA and subsequent work at Azra Games, Neil realized that the approach to work significantly differs between these two environments.

  • Within a large corporation like EA, one gains access to extensive resources, enabling faster and more precise execution. The expectations are high, as EA is a significant player in the market, necessitating an unwavering commitment to excellence.
  • On the other hand, working in a startup environment may not provide a carte blanche on the budget, but it grants creative freedom to achieve innovative results.

These insights merely scratch the surface of the revelations uncovered in an interview conducted by Ninel Anderson (Devoted Studios, CEO). The complete video is available in the article below, where you can delve deeper into:

  • The creation process behind Apex Legends short films.
  • Storytelling insights from Battlefield 2042.
  • The intricacies of developing a strategy to promote a gaming company on TikTok.