The World Has The 33

I'm delighted to announce that the premiere episode of The 33 — Pramantha, Part 1 — is now out in the wild, and ready to be consumed by your eyes and ears. Oh, happy day!

This represents a gale-force exhale for me. I've been thinking about, and creating, The 33 in one form or another since 2008. That's a helluva long walk, friends. But the project is finally here, and I'm proud of its first episode.

What is The 33? It's the A-Team meets The X-Files, a weird present-day world where science and sorcery coexist — along with gods, monsters, rogue AIs and anything else you could throw into the bizarre blender that is my brain. It's about thirty-three men and women — misfits, every one — who've been hired to protect the world from a cabal of baddies intent on jumpstarting armageddon.

In many ways, The 33 is my salute to 1980s TV adventure shows and comic books. It's my quirky take on team-based, save-the-world stories. It's also my spin on ebook publishing. The 33 isn't a novel. It's a series of short stories, told in season-long arcs — just like TV. Some adventures are multi-parters. Others are one-shots. Just like comics.

Episodes will be released monthly.

If you're diggin' what I'm transmittin', head over to The 33's page. There, you'll learn a little more about the The 33's cast of unusual (and ever-changing) characters, and find links to purchase the first episode at my site, Amazon and other marketplaces. (Ebook episodes are available at several stores, but The 33's audiobooks are sold exclusively here.)

And hey. While you're over at The 33's page, take three seconds to sign up for The 33's newsletter. Do that, and you'll snag a free excerpt of Episode 1 in text and audiobook formats. You'll also get a coupon for 33% off your purchase of Episode 1. Freebies and deals. Not bad.

Unlike my past digital fiction projects, The 33 isn't free. I hope you're cool with that. I am, 'cause I gotta eat. But I've made sure the prices are fair for you, and for me.

I hope you'll check out the first episode of The 33 … and if you like it, I hope you'll tell a friend or two. Or two dozen!

As always, if you have any questions or feedback — or if you're a blogger/podcaster/reporter who'd like to learn more about The 33 — don't hesitate to drop a line. Thanks so much … and remember: The world needs The 33.

—J.C.

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J.C. Hutchins

J.C. Hutchins is an award-winning freelance transmedia writer, experience designer and novelist. He helps agencies and entertainment companies create multi-channel narratives to achieve their creative and business goals.

Next-Gen Console Reviews from Polygon

Polygon isn't a perfect online publication, but it's often thoughtful and deliberate in its coverage of video games entertainment. Story for story, it's become my go-to site for well-written, timely coverage of video gaming news. Its long form features are especially good.

The Polygon team recently reviewed the next generation consoles, the PlayStation 4 and  XBox One. While the site's long form text reviews (XBox One's is here; PS4's is here) are insightful and well worth reading, Polygon's video reviews of both products, seen below, represent some of the best the site has to offer.

If you follow video games journalism for any length of time, you soon discover that so much of it is ill-written, hyperbolic and downright bad journalism. That's because most of it isn't journalism at all, but attitude- and personality-driven punditry. Blech. Polygon strives to transcend that, and often succeeds.

I'm a PlayStation guy, so I'll eventually pick up a PS4. (My PS3 games backlog, right here on my bookshelf, is still too big for me to justify a PS4 purchase at present.) Polygon gave the XBox One an "8" in its review; the PS4 received a "7.5." For invested console gamers, those scores are interesting — and perhaps even underwhelming. But Polygon is examining the big picture, confident both consoles will improve in time, as new games, UI improvements and software patches are rolled in for both consoles.

These are terrific text and video reviews. They show us what great games journalism looks like.

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J.C. Hutchins

J.C. Hutchins is an award-winning freelance transmedia writer, experience designer and novelist. He helps agencies and entertainment companies create multi-channel narratives to achieve their creative and business goals.

Cathedrals and Garden Sheds

"I'm never happy with what I've written. You imagine, before you start, there's a cathedral, and the moment it starts on the page, it's a garden shed. And then you just try to make it the best shed you can."

—Sadie Jones, novelist

via The Guardian 

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J.C. Hutchins

J.C. Hutchins is an award-winning freelance transmedia writer, experience designer and novelist. He helps agencies and entertainment companies create multi-channel narratives to achieve their creative and business goals.

Is Second Screen Content Actually "Transmedia"?

Laith Graham, an Australian buddy who's followed my career since my 7th Son podcast days, asked me this transmedia-related question on Facebook. I thought I'd share Laith's Q, and my A, here.


Hey J.C.,

I've been wondering about your thoughts on TV-related Apps and Social Media integration, and if it is "transmedia." For example: Sporting events like Formula One and iPad apps that show live track position, or Big Brother showing viewer Tweets and Facebook comments, as well as extra footage going to the viewer's iPhone app while watching the show live.

Is this now mainstream transmedia? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

—Laith


Here's my take: 

These days, the word "transmedia" is being slung about in strange ways, and being applied to different content strategies. By some folks' reckoning, having such "second screen" content is indeed a breed of transmedia — it's certainly content rolling in through a separate channel/medium (the tablet, for instance), and is designed to enhance the experience of the core content.

Personally, I approach and define "transmedia" from a narrative point of view. For me, it's all about story ... which means I think it's best-suited for fiction programming. In this case, a second screen experience that actually pushes in-world narrative content to the viewer in real time (or permits time-shifted engagement) is a more authentic use of the word and content strategy. I'm talking about canonical content, not tweets of what other viewers think of the show, etc.

Of course, this strategy need not start and stop with mobile apps or social media. Savvy showrunners can, and have, hired creators to populate the web with in-world narrative content on YouTube, "personal" blogs, etc. The TV show Castle even features novel titles written by its crime novelist hero ... which then go on sale weeks later in real stores. Crazy cool.

Anyways, that's a longwinded way of saying I personally believe the most valuable application of transmedia storytelling is when it expands and enhances the storyworld of the show — and not merely (and crassly) promotes the show itself. Doing so can deepen interest and evangelism in the show's actual content and characters — which also accomplishes a marketer's mission of promoting the show itself. Everybody wins.


So, that's my hastily-written perspective. What's yours? Am I giving non-fiction and reality programming short shrift? Are there resonant, current examples of TV-based transmedia experiences — be they non-fiction or fiction ... story-driven or promotion-only — we should know about? Pipe up in the comments.

—J.C. 

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J.C. Hutchins

J.C. Hutchins is an award-winning freelance transmedia writer, experience designer and novelist. He helps agencies and entertainment companies create multi-channel narratives to achieve their creative and business goals.

Podcast: StoryForward, Episode 35 -- Christian Fonnesbech

Hey everyone! You’re really gonna like this episode a lot, trust us! In it, Steve chats with Christian Fonnesbech, the Transmedia Director for the upcoming project Cloud Chamber. We talk about story, challenges and more.

Also, J.C. chats with ARGNet’s Michael J. Andersen about the latest happenings in the world of ARGs, and we talk about Douglas Rushkoff’s new book, Present Shock.

Links mentioned in this episode:

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J.C. Hutchins

J.C. Hutchins is an award-winning freelance transmedia writer, experience designer and novelist. He helps agencies and entertainment companies create multi-channel narratives to achieve their creative and business goals.

Podcast: StoryForward, Episode 34 -- Listener Q&A

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It’s another special Mailbag episode! Steve and J.C. answer your questions — and boy, were there some doozies this time!

Links mentioned in this episode:

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J.C. Hutchins

J.C. Hutchins is an award-winning freelance transmedia writer, experience designer and novelist. He helps agencies and entertainment companies create multi-channel narratives to achieve their creative and business goals.

J.C. Talks Transmedia With Jay Ferguson From "Guidestones"

I recently had the great fortune to be interviewed by Jay Ferguson, creator of the Emmy award-winning transmedia experience Guidestones. In these three videos, we gab about the future of the craft, being a creator in the transmedia space, and the blossoming business opportunities for transmedia programming. Enjoy!

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J.C. Hutchins

J.C. Hutchins is an award-winning freelance transmedia writer, experience designer and novelist. He helps agencies and entertainment companies create multi-channel narratives to achieve their creative and business goals.

Podcast: StoryForward, Episode 33 -- The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

This week’s guests are the creative team behind The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Bernie Su, Margaret Dunlap, Jenni Powell, and Jay Bushman.

Links mentioned in this episode:

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J.C. Hutchins

J.C. Hutchins is an award-winning freelance transmedia writer, experience designer and novelist. He helps agencies and entertainment companies create multi-channel narratives to achieve their creative and business goals.

Podcast: StoryForward, Episode 32 -- Henry Jenkins

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Professor Henry Jenkins is our guest in this episode! He and J.C. sit down and talk about our current culture of shareable, spreadable media in this epic podcast. Also, ARGNet’s Michael Andersen stops by to update us on the latest goings-on in the ARG world, and Steve and J.C. talk Blade Runner, Survivor and their latest console game addictions.

Note: In our conversation with Michael Andersen, John Green was mistakenly identified as a co-creator of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. We intended to reference co-creator Hank Green instead. We apologize for the oversight. 

Links mentioned in this episode:

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J.C. Hutchins

J.C. Hutchins is an award-winning freelance transmedia writer, experience designer and novelist. He helps agencies and entertainment companies create multi-channel narratives to achieve their creative and business goals.

J.C. joins forces with Protagonist Labs

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Cool things are afoot over at Protagonist Labs. Damned cool things.

When the brilliant team at the new company — led by a duo of entrepreneurs and technologists named Stephen Hood and Josh Whiting — recently contacted me and tipped me to a remarkable new product they were developing, I had a bona fide lean in moment. I think my eyes went a little wide. I know I grinned like a kid.

It's supercool stuff. It's also super-secret stuff for now, but dude. Dude. It's supercool.

Stephen and Josh follow and enjoy my prose fiction and transmedia work, and felt my creative perspective and unique storytelling skillset might help them shape this innovative product. I can't tell you what it is, but I can tell you it's unlike anything I've ever worked on ... and it's right up my alley. I couldn't say no.

And so, it's my absolute honor to announce that I'm an advisor for the company. This is a trailblazing thing we're putting together, something I believe will absolutely be worth your time and attention ... especially if you like the kind of stories I tell, and how they're told.

Other creative people, such as the supremely gifted writer and game designer Will Hindmarch, are also advising Protagonist Labs. I'm flattered to be in such awesome company, and advising such an awesome company. Stephen and Josh are crafting something remarkable, and I'm thrilled to be a part of it.

And be sure to check out Protagonist Labs and its founders (and try to guess what they're up to!) by visiting the company's site, or following the company on Twitter.

—J.C.

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J.C. Hutchins

J.C. Hutchins is an award-winning freelance transmedia writer, experience designer and novelist. He helps agencies and entertainment companies create multi-channel narratives to achieve their creative and business goals.