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On Wednesday, June 30 at 12pm PST Metanomics will host its second in a series of Master Classes, this week focusing on Immersive Storytelling. You can watch the show live here the day of the broadcast, at the Metanomics Main Stage in Second Life or at one of Metanomic’s Event Partner location. Find all our Second life locations here.
What’s the difference between a story and a game? Does interactivity always imply that stories contain game mechanics and that games always contain story? How do you create a compelling narrative in a virtual world? What are the tools, tips and approaches to creating online narrative?
The Metanomics Masterclass Series examines best practices in immersive development. This episode, on Immersive Storytelling with Jena Ball and Alexander Macris, brings together a panel that will provide insight into the the use of narrative and story in virtual worlds and game environments. An exploration of the cross-over between narrative approaches in games, and the unique approaches to story in a user-generated environment like Second Life.
Jena Ball is a writer, educator, and storyteller Over her career she has penned everything from technical papers and textbooks to restaurant reviews and features for publications such as Backpacker, Mother Earth News, and House Beautiful. She has also developed, written, and produced online writing classes for high school, junior colleges, and universities.
Ball entered Second Life as Jenaia Morane in 2008 and was immediately struck by the creative possibilities. “Suddenly I was able to not only “tell” my stories but build and invite others to co-create them with me as well” says Ball. Since partnering with Marty Keltz to found The Virtual Worlds Story Project (TVWSP) in 2009, she has focused her energies on creating immersive interactive 3D learning environments known as Story Quests. Designed to spark creativity, stimulate integrative thinking, and initiate change, Story Quests make use of a wide range of technologies and media platforms. Her work as the Coordinator of the HIV/AIDS island, Karuna, was the basis for the groundbreaking Uncle D Story Quest, which was a finalist for the 2010 Linden Prize.
Most recently. Ball has partnered with her TVWSP partner Marty Keltz and Doug Thompson, the CEO of Remedy Communications, to create “Startled Cat.” Billing itself as a studio for immersive storytelling, Startled Cat uses the power of story and Narrative Architecture™ to create deep engagement, build communities, and facilitate lasting change.
Jena’s thoughts on storytelling, life as an avatar, and the role of Startled Cat can be read on the Startled Cat web site: www.startledcat.com
Alexander Macris is the CEO and President of Themis Group, Inc., a new media publisher based in Durham, NC. Which he co-founded in August 2001. As president & CEO of Themis, Mr. Macris provides the company’s strategic vision and serves as the Publisher and Editorial Director of its media properties, including its flagship publication The Escapist (www.escapistmagazine.com), the mouthpiece of the gaming generation.
Under his leadership, Themis has grown from a start-up to a multi-million dollar company, while delivering over 40 million pages per month to an audience of over 3 million readers monthly. The Escapist has earned two Webby Awards for Best Game Related Website, a People’s Voice Award for Best Game Related Website, a Mashable Award for Best Online Magaine, and two Streamy Award nominations for Best Animated Series.
Under Mr. Macris’s management, Themis was a 2006 Top 35 Wall Street Journal Winning Workplace finalist for its high retention and talen-oriented workforce policies. A full-faceted multimedia executive, Mr. Macris also personally designed the hit browser adver-game Heroes Mini (winner, Best Promotional Web Game, 2006 MI6 Award) as well as three other browser games; concepted and edited the Wiley “MMORPGs for Dummies” book; consulted on more than 40 new media marketing campaigns for companies like Cartoon Network, Atari, Sega, and Nokia; and published a series of research reports on the game industry. His 2004 Themis Report correctly predicted the rise of motion-interface controllers, micropayments, and social gaming.
In addition to his work at Themis, Mr. Macris has been a leader in building the Triangle, North Carolina area into the East Coast’s hub for video game technology. In February 2008, he co-founded the Triangle Game Initiative, the industry’s trade association for the Triangle area of North Carolina, and has served as the Initiative’s president since its inception. Working with game and new media companies such as Epic, Red Storm, Emergent, and Capstrat, he co-produced the first ever Triangle Game Conference, which had over 700 attendees and 40 participating companies, and initiated the area’s first economic impact study to evaluate the role of video games in North Carolina.
Mr. Macris is a graduate magna cum laude of Harvard Law School (2000). Prior to Harvard, he graduated summa cum laude from Binghamton University with a B.A. in History. He has resided in Durham, North Carolina since 2001.