The Immersive Storytelling ULEC explores the practice and future of immersive storytelling at a time when our virtual and physical worlds converge and we speculate on the metaverse. If cinema developed compelling moving images that spoke to us from the screen, today we are witnessing the birth of a new medium. Immersive narratives invite us to step into the story and lose the edge of the frame, breaking through the 4th fall and the rules we have perfected for cinema. Now a new language must be invented. In this course, we will look past the current state of storytelling to the future. We will experience, discuss and create immersive experiences that blend elements of theatre, film, interactive gameplay, installation art, digital fashion, and the affordances of cutting-edge immersive technologies. We will discuss how they affect the character, plot, dramatic actions, point of view, sequence, gaze, time, space, data, and code within interactive linear and non-linear narratives and fictions? This is a gateway course for the Immersive Storytelling Minor, where we invite you to think about how stories are redefined, shaped, and shared in the age of profound digital transformation. Students will examine various genres, trends, design strategies, and production pipelines such as narrative and immersive design, worldbuilding, prototyping, and implementation. We will discuss the sense of immersion, presence, and agency in sensory virtual worlds. The more powerful our tools become, the more potent our narratives will be. Indistinguishable from reality, stories in the future could expand our capacity for empathy and raise profound ethical questions about what it means to be human. This course explores how virtual, augmented, mixed reality and their interplay with artificial intelligence, machine learning, Web 3.0, blockchain, and NFTs, offer a new space for creative ways to engage audiences with immersive storytelling from entertainment to gameplay, fashion, art, and advocacy. As part of the course, students will use VR headsets and meet virtually for a select set of class meetings. We will explore the Metaverse, a new playground for creatives, storytellers, writers, designers, and brands to push the boundaries of immersive storytelling. As we go down the rabbit hole of our future, the story will happen to you. At the dawn of a new medium, what will storytelling, the oldest and most human of arts, become? What stories will you create?
Maya is the Senior Director of the Innovation Center and XR, AI, and Quantum Labs at The New School. She leads a team driving innovation focused on immersive storytelling, spatial computing, AI, Quantum Computing, future interfaces, and design. Maya teaches the signature Immersive Storytelling course at Parsons School of Design and often speaks about the Metaverse and frontier technologies like AI and Quantum and speculative futures. Her work has been featured at SXSW, the MIT Media Lab, The Atlantic, The Economist, and the Fulbright Program, among others. She is the co-author and principal investigator of the State of XR and Immersive Learning Report. She has authored white papers on the future of education and immersive learning in EDUCAUSE Review, The Chronicle of Higher Education. Maya actively writes and speaks on the topics of the metaverse, immersive storytelling, and the future of learning, creativity, and work and consults organizations and startups in this space. She has been named one of the 30 Higher Education Influencers to follow in 2022.
She is also the co-founder of Digital Bodies, an award-winning website focusing on VR/AR/MR and their impact on media and society. She has worked with Google, HP, Microsoft, Intel, Facebook, and various education and non-profit organizations on developing immersive experiences, digital strategy, and innovation. Maya has spoken at United Nations and European Commission on education, policy, and corporate Innovation forums.