Collapsus: A Transmedia Project

Collapsus, directed by Tommy Pallotta, follows the adventures of 10 young people located all around the world, as they go about tackling a world filled with deception, conspiracy, and, more importantly, the imminent depletion of energy resources.



The Collapsus Project originated as a documentary for Dutch broadcaster VPRO. The documentary was originally dubbed “Energy Risk” and it covered the imminent energy transition from fossil fuels to alternative energy sources. The intended target audience for the documentary was a younger audience. However, the audience for documentary is dying and the average age for a documentary viewer is 55 years old and above. Hence, the producers (a.k.a. Dutch broadcaster VPRO) decided to look for a solution elsewhere. They felt that by doing so they stood a better chance at achieving their goal: to get these issues out to younger people and the connected generation and at the same time attract a different audience than traditional documentary viewers.

Producers looked to create a multimedia experience for their younger viewers. And so, they brought their documentary to Submarine Channel, where it then underwent major remodeling and eventually evolved into a hybrid documentary game that marries animation with interactive fiction and documentary film across a three-panel system. The study of the raw material first led to the materialization of a meta-scenario and from that a script and possible interactive mechanics were explored. The entire Collapsus Project embodied the work of approximately 60 producers working on the interactivity, animation, documentary, script, development and design. Nevertheless, all the time, effort and hard work put into the project did not go to unappreciated. Since its launch in 2010, Collapsus has acquired numerous achievements awards.


  • Games for Change Festival 2010 Transmedia Award Nominee,
  • SXSW Winner Interactive Awards 2011,
  • Digital Emmy Nominee for Best Digital Fiction,
  • Spin Awards Best Interactive Video,
  • idfa DOCLAB Nominee,
  • Doc/Fest Sheffield Nominee,
  • 15th Annual Webby Awards Nominee,
  • FWA Site of the Day

Three-panel System


Screen Shot 2013-07-31 at 2.36.03 AM


The center panel functions as the main fictional storyline and timeline.

The right panel operates as the documentary segment of the documentary game. Here, viewers are introduced to an array of talking heads, interviews with experts in the field, additional blogs from the characters, as well as some environmental and cultural facts.

The left panel is the interactive portion of the documentary game, which includes an interactive map that reveals each character’s location, types of available resources, the amount of energy needed, and the amount of energy produced.

The combination of all three components requires the viewer to read, listen, watch and interact simultaneously. As mentioned by Henry Jenkins, the Provost Professor of Communication, Journalism, and Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California, a basic breakdown of existing communication reveals reading, listening, interaction, and watching to be the modern foundation of possible sensory content application.  Additionally, reading, listening, interaction, and watching, are all media sources useful in releasing information and encouraging viewers to seek further analysis. It is then safe to presume that the three-panel design played a role in Collapsus’ success.

Media Platforms

The primary media platform of the Collapsus experience is its webpage. Secondly, the YouTube channel “CitizEnergy” contains expert videos that are displayed on the right panel of the Collapsus website. Collapsus also includes another YouTube channel titled “Collapsusnews”, which includes a few scenes from Collapsus’ fictional narrative as well as a walkthrough video with Collapsus’ very own director, Tommy Pallotta. The YouTube channel was mainly created for the purpose of directing viewers to the Collapsus Facebook and Twitter page. However, the setup of both Facebook and Twitter pages seem to be redundant as neither are making any distinctive contribution or offer a new level of insight and experience (cf. Jenkins 2006-105).

Game Play

As mentioned above, Collapsus is a documentary game that follows the adventures of 10 people as they become entangled in a world flooded with deception and conspiracy, and their struggles with the energy crisis at hand. In the story, set in the year 2012 and up, international powers try to cope with a transition from fossil to alternative energy sources, while dealing with political conflict, anarchy, and increasingly frequent blackouts.

Collapsus places its viewers in climacteric points in time, where it then coerces its viewers to make life-or-death decisions about things such as the impending energy crisis, and the world’s energy production. In addition to that, live action footage combined with animation is designed to help viewers understand the current political situation as well as the each character’s course of destiny. Viewers are accompanied and guided by numerous vlog posts of Vera and her friends as they try to solve their personal problems and at the same time attempt to create a better, sustainable future.

This form of interactive documentary is both engaging and informative, and the blend of animation and documentary and/or the play with fiction and reality proves to be rather entertaining.


Click here to launch Collapsus

Click here for Collapsus’ Facebook page

Click here for Collapsus’ Twitter page



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