Writing a Transmedia Bible For Halo

In an interview published on Dec. 5th, 2011, Jeff Gomez, transmedia storyteller and founder of Starlight Runner, talked with XBOX Magzine about the Halo Bible - the storyworld work his company has done with the makers of iconic videogame Halo.

In general, a "bible" is the document that is written to prepare a property (like the videogame franchise of Halo) for expansion into other platforms (like novels, comic books, TV series, movies, etc.).

Previously (August 2010) Bloomberg Businessweek ran an article that described the Halo Story Bible as four black-and-silver looseleaf binders that contained "hundreds of pages [each] laying out the Halo story and universe, including the events to transpire in future games, books, and anything else." These binders were reportedly "stored in a locked metal cabinet in the game studio's offices [343 Industries], which are inaccessible to the rest of Microsoft."

Bloomberg reported that "[a]uthors working on Halo novels — there have been seven, five of them New York Times Best Sellers — are given sections with just the material applicable to their story." For example, sci-fi writer Greg Bear reported that each page he received had a unique code on it - so that if there was a leak - it could be tracked back to him.

Because of this secrecy, Jeff Gomez was reluctant to provide too many Halo specifics in his Dec. 2011 interview with XBOX Magazine, but he did discuss how his company approaches the task of writing a bible: "In general, our mythologies describe what is currently known about the canonical universe. Where there might be speculation, we cite the fact that this may or may not be true. What these things are for are not to dictate to writers and producers and creators what they must write. It’s to give them the facts, so that they can invent some new, cool, exciting stuff. So we purposely leave the holes that we find. It’s not our job to fill every blank, because in those blanks could be fantastic stories. So they’re not hyper-geeky, every blade of grass, every tree, that kind of thing. But where the facts are the facts: what weapons are established, what alien races are established and so forth, what are their personae and so forth. We’ve got all that in there."

Why is the Halo Bible guarded so closely? According to Bloomberg Businessweek: "Since the first release of Halo in 2001, the alien-invasion-themed game and its appurtenant books, toys, and apparel, have generated $2 billion in sales for Microsoft."

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