Playing for Plot in the Lost and Portal Franchises

Jason Mittell


The rising prominence of transmedia storytelling in the digital era has helped to spur the intertwining of narrative and ludic media. In this presentation, I will discuss the way that gameplay and storytelling co-mingle in two very different franchises with both cult and mainstream appeal: the television series Lost and the game series Portal. While each privileges the typical form of their medium, with Lost emphasizing plot and Portal foregrounding play, looking at the cultural practices of each franchise’s “forensic fans” highlights how ludic and narrative pleasures are embedded within both media and their transmedia extensions. Contrasting the appeals encouraged by their transmedia extensions and the innovative practices embraced by fans highlights how both gameplay and storytelling can work together and potentially come into conflict within contemporary media environments.


Lost; Portal; transmedia; narrative

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