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If you look at the metaverse or virtual worlds as an escape from a failing world, I think you've already failed... We should be using technology to enhance the experience we have while we're alive as humans, not leaving our bodies, not leaving the world behind.
–Philip Rosedale
Philip Rosedale
Founder of Second Life and High Fidelity Philip Rosedale discusses how online and virtual worlds have changed since Second Life’s inception and shares his insights about the metaverse.
Maureen Fan
Baobab Studios Founder and CEO Maureen Fan discusses her passion for animation, her company’s unique approach to VR production and interactive storytelling, and the challenges of being a female Asian CEO in a sector dominated by white men.
Procedural Storytelling is Exploding the Possibilities of Video Game Narratives // The Verge
With the increasing sophistication and accessibility of AI as a tool for game design, procedural generation has become commonplace. The technique allows for the spontaneous, algorithmic creation of unique objects, levels, and even entire galaxies (see the 18-quintillion-planet universe of No Man's Sky). Now, some developers are applying the logic of procedural generation to narrative, incorporating AI to create stories that arise and evolve based on the player’s actions and offer unique moments that no other player will ever experience.
Universal Music Group Partners with Genies for Artist Avatars
// Variety
Earlier this month, Universal Music Group and avatar company Genies announced a partnership to develop avatars and digital wearables for UMG's artist roster. The move is a sign of mounting enthusiasm around Web 3.0 and virtual economies on the heels of a year that redefined the possibilities of online life.
SPOILER ALERT: Spoiler Alerts Are Making Us All Stupid

The titular proclamation is not the only enthusiastically overstated claim you’ll find in this WIRED editorial, but look past all that bravado and you’ll find (spoiler alert) a thoughtful and thoroughly entertaining meditation on beginnings, endings, the role of criticism, and the nature of our present cultural moment.
How TikTok Reads Your Mind // The New York Times
If you’re among the billion people (literally!) who spend time on TikTok every month, you’re familiar with the app as 2021’s central vehicle for youth culture and online culture generally. A major contributor to its success has been its uncanny ability to predict users’ interests through its recommendation algorithm, even at times seeming to know them better than they know themselves. This investigative piece from the New York Times offers insights into the algorithm’s workings gleaned from internal TikTok documents and reveals the dark side of hyper-effective algorithmic curation.

While artificial intelligence has been a hot topic in the tech world for decades, we are only just beginning to tap its potential as a tool for storytelling. Alongside the work on procedural narrative discussed in the Verge article above, innovators in gaming and tech are using AI to create characters that can think, plan, and make decisions just like a human would. In the FoST-produced short films below, prolific game writer Chet Faliszek and Soul Machines CEO Mark Sagar offer two visions for how AI-driven characters might change the future of storytelling.
Chet Faliszek: Introducing Free Will in Video Gaming
Mark Sagar: Creating Virtual Humans

Below, find a list of some of the virtual storytelling experiences we've enjoyed in the past month, plus one socially distanced in-person experience. Shoot us an email if you come across any that should be included next month!

Experience State-of-the-Art Audio Storytelling
Audio drama, first popularized by radio stations in the early 1920s, is hardly a new form—but at Brooklyn’s Museum of Future Experiences, you can experience it in a whole new way. Thanks to a high-tech speaker array, MoFE’s audio dramas create 3D sonic worlds surrounding the listener, conjuring hyperrealistic environments that will electrify your imagination.

Use AI to Visualize the Impacts of Climate Change
This Climate Does Not Exist is an AI-driven experience based on empathy, allowing users to imagine the environmental impacts of the current climate crisis, one address at a time. The project is based on the premise that if we’re going to tackle the climate crisis, we all need to act as though our homes were directly affected.

Dive Into an All-Time Classic of Interactive Fiction
There’s a prevailing attitude today that video games have only recently come into their own as a narrative medium, and that interactive fiction as a whole is a relatively new phenomenon—but text adventure games have been exploring the potential of interactive narrative since the 1970s. Brian Moriarty’s 1986 classic Trinity has stood the test of time thanks to its evocative imagery, mature themes, and challenging logic puzzles, and is just as worth revisiting as the classics of any narrative form. 

Pay a Visit to the Boundless Library
Over the past few years, the rising popularity of board games, escape rooms, and immersive storytelling have converged to produce a new medium: the story box. Among a growing field of companies producing these novel, home-delivered immersive experiences, The Boundless Library stands out thanks to its artful design, emotional heft, and preference for storytelling over puzzle-solving. You have to apply for a library card before you can order one of their pieces, but it’s well worth it: these stories, freed from the confines of a book, screen, or stage, are sure to stick with you.

Contact the Ministry of Mundane Mysteries
One of the most beloved virtual theater experiences of the past 2 years is back! Is your pet acting strange? Your toaster not toasting quite like it usually does? Has one of your socks gone AWOL? It’s time to contact the Ministry of Mundane Mysteries. With the Ministry’s hotshot detectives on the case, you’ll get a series of 10-minute phone calls taking you on a personalized adventure to solve your life’s most decidedly-not-pressing problem. You can also gift an investigation to a friend, which makes a great last-minute holiday gift for any immersive theater lover in your life.
Copyright © 2021 Future of StoryTelling, All rights reserved.

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