Immersive Experience: Convergence, Storyworlds, and the Power for Social Impact

Immersive Experience: Convergence, Storyworlds, and the Power for Social Impact

Kate M. McCallum
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2433-6.ch022
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This chapter examines the evolution of trends in the arts, storytelling, and immersive media, along with the emerging awareness, expansion, and deliberate application of social impact entertainment (SIE). The author discusses how the ideas and concepts of transmedia, convergence, and storyworld-building have now expanded beyond academic theory into more organic commercial and artistic applications. The focus is on how this approach relates to extending intellectual properties and stories into immersive media platforms and beyond. Additionally, the author presents several case studies and examples of emerging arts and media formats to support what we might expect to experience in the near future.
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The Evolution Of Immersive Media

In the 19th Century humanity implemented two powerful inventions that changed the course of human evolution—the gas engine and electricity. In less than 130 years, this new “Promethean Fire” accelerated our experience of life on Earth and we now find ourselves catapulted into the start of a new evolutionary era. For those who study mythic aspects of astrology this era marks the romantic narrative notion of the end of the Piscean Age and the beginning of the Aquarian Age. We’ve gone from a period in humanity which was dominated by a devotional approach, and a hierarchy, power-based society, to a more unified network of individualized power with access to technologies and vast information once accessible to only a few. Over the last decades, we have come to realize the tremendous power of global media and imagery to advance our consciousness and understanding of the human condition, life on Earth, and our place in the universe.

On December 24, 1968, during the Apollo 8 mission, astronaut William Anders photographed Earth and a portion of the Moon's surface from lunar orbit (Figure 1). That photo—Earthrise—has become one of the most influential images of all time as it provided humanity with a truly unique perspective of our place in the universe, much like the invention of the telescope did circa 1608.

Figure 1.


Source: NASA Image Credit: NASA, Apollo 8 Crew, Bill Anders; Processing and License: Jim Weigang

The Evolution Of Media

As we moved into the 20th Century, electricity gave rise to technological inventions that expanded our ability to communicate and experience life from around the world, and from the universe, starting with media like radio and the phonograph, and moving into cinema, television, electronic musical instruments, video games, theme parks, and even mobile phones. As well, the invention of the personal computer and the World Wide Web afforded humanity an ever-widening array of entertainment and communication choices.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Convergence: Convergence is the merging of communication platforms such as; feature films, print, television, radio, live experiences, theme parks, games, the Internet along with portable and interactive technologies through various digital media platforms. Media convergence is the use of multiple media formats extending from one storyworld or platform to deliver a more expanded or enhanced experience.

Fulldome: Fulldome is often referred to when describing a 360, 180 degree theater venue or content designed for the venue. The fulldome theater can be found most often in digital planetariums found in and science centers and universities, there are now fulldome theaters emerging in mainstream culture and entertainment, arts and culture. Most typically in the form of a temporary pop up dome. Cinema content created for these spaces is typically done with live-action captured film or video, pre-rendered animation, real-time visuals mixed live, or a with a mix of formats.

Television Academy: The Television Academy, the only major organization devoted to the television and broadband screen entertainment industry, is made up of over 24,000 members, representing 30 professional peer groups, including performers, directors, producers, art directors and various other artisans, technicians and executives.

Social Impact Entertainment (SIE): Defines a type of entertainment format, primarily feature films, television, and streaming content designed to embed a topic or action that inspires social impact.

Storyworlds: The term storyworld refers to the whole of the “narrative universe” that a story and or stories emerge from. It contains the characters, settings, the time periods (backstories and future stories), props, and events and actions that take place in the storyworld. A storyworld can contain a “canon” which defines the “rules” of the storyworld universe as well.

Producers Guild of America: The Producers Guild of America is a non-profit trade organization that represents, protects and promotes the interests of all members of the producing team in film, television and new media. The Producers Guild works to protect the careers of producers and improve the producing community at large by facilitating health benefits for members, encouraging the enforcement of workplace labor laws and sustainable practices, creating fair and impartial standards for the awarding of producing credits, and hosting educational opportunities for new and experienced producers alike.

Transmedia Media: Similar to convergence, transmedia is the results of utilizing a variety of media platforms and or designed experiences to extend a storyworld or IP into a variety of cohesively executed unique experiences or narratives that offers the viewer or participant to access aspects of the storyworld for alternative experiences of that storyworld.

Intellectual Property (IP): An original work or invention that is the result of creativity, such as a manuscript or a design, to which one has rights and for which one may apply for a patent, copyright, trademark, etc.

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