Random House kicks off 'transmedia IP' movement

The new branch of the publisher will handle all "transmedia intellectual property"

Book publisher Random House announced a new deal today that will change the way we think about video game adaptations. Stardock's original PC strategy game, Elemental: War of Magic, leads off with a book called Elemental: Destiny's Embers this summer.

The new branch of the publisher will handle all "transmedia intellectual property (IP) -- story content that can be accessed through multiple media sources including video games, social networks on the web, mobile platforms, in print and on film."

So rather than just taking the story of Elemental: War of Magic and massaging it into a novel, editors from Random House like Keith Clayton (editor, Stars Wars Expanded Universe properties) work with game writers to create books that exists within the same IP as a video game. In other words, the publisher will license the universe and let authors, game developers, or even comic book writers express the IP in different formats.

Or at least that's how Stardock CEO and Elemental developer Brad Wardell puts it. Speaking to GamePro this afternoon, he said that the new move by Random House not only creates a healthy environment for better writing in games, but it also let him fulfill a lifelong dream of being a published author.

"I always said I wish I could write books, but I've never had the economic justification to do so," Wardell said. "I have a whole new respect for writers after going through this."

Per an agreement with Random House, Wardell had to submit sample chapters to earn the right to write a novel set in his own universe. After approving his submission, the newly-formed transmedia IP branch worked directly with him to edit the manuscript and cross-check it against the video game's writing so that both properties were consistent in style, tone, and quality.

"In fantasy games, how many times does the fantasy just not make sense?" Wardell said. "[Developers] put a monster in there sometimes just because it looks cool. That's been one of the real impacts [the Elemental book process] has had on [the game]. The magic system makes sense -- the whole thing is self-consistent."

The novel, Elemental: Destiny's Embers, hits shelves this August. The game, Elemental: War of Magic, comes out in September.

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AJ Glasser

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