Viewer/User/Player (The VUP)

The VUP or Viewer/User/Player is a term that was coined by transmedia designer, artist, writer and teacher Stephen E. Dinehart. He describes is like so:

“In a transmedial work the viewer/user/player (VUP) transforms the story via his or her own natural cognitive psychological abilities, and enables the Artwork to surpass medium. It is in transmedial play that the ultimate story agency, and decentralized authorship can be realized. Thus the VUP becomes the true producer of the Artwork.”
(http://narrativedesign.org/2008/05/transmedial-play-cognitive-and-cross-platform-narrative/)

When it comes to transmedia, the term audience no longer is enough. Neither is viewer, nor player. But it is all three of these things in one, and it is through this transmedial play, that the VUP is able to not just passively engage with a story, but to actively be apart of the construction of that storyworld and, in essence, become a creator of the narrative.

The reason Dinehart renders the VUP as the “true producer of the Artwork” is due to the fact that the VUP acts as an interpreter for the work, and without him or her there to experience the artwork, it would, according to post-modern theory, only exist without any sort of meaning attached to it. I believe that Dinehart makes this extreme statement to just illustrate a point, rather than assume the real makers of the Artwork are not significant in the production or experiencing of it. If he is, then it is quite a ridiculous remark. But what he is trying to do is put the focus of what he calls ‘transmedial play’ on the individual that experiences this creative work, on the Viewer/User/Player.

With reference to fundamental theories within networked media, such as the decentralisation of authorship, Dinehart reinforces these notions and claims that this kind of interaction with multiple media works within the same franchise, storyworld or story agency, which he calls transmedial play, is an exemplar of them.

So, to be aware of the power of the VUP in not just passively interacting with your transmedia work, but being active participants in the story creation and success, is vital to understanding how to produce fictional stories in a transmedia environment.