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We create what we call digital recreations. They've been touted as “deepfakes.” The difference is, a deepfake is something that’s hacked. A digital recreation is something that’s authentic and built from authentic content.

–Stephen Smith

Stephen Smith
StoryFile cofounder & CEO Stephen Smith discusses his company’s pioneering technology, which allows users to converse directly with history.
Bernie Su
Award-winning writer, director, and producer Bernie Su discusses his innovative approach to building interactive stories for brand new mediums.
Ukraine Invasion Becomes the World's “First TikTok War
// The New Yorker

The Russian invasion of Ukraine is providing a glimpse into a new type of wartime storytelling. While the Arab Spring showed us the power of social media in times of conflict, the advances in smartphone cameras and the transformation of social media platforms in the years since have paved the way for a new and very different form of citizen journalism. Combining devastating imagery with lighthearted jokes and catchy pop music, TikTok creators in Ukraine and abroad are speaking to the platform’s audiences in their own language, and achieving massive engagement and deep empathy in doing so. And it’s not just TikTok users who recognize the power of this trend: in early March, the White House began briefing influential content creators with updates about the war and where the US sees it heading.
South Korean Politician Wins Votes with Deepfakes
// Screenshot

South Korean politician Yoon Suk-yeol, who narrowly won the country’s presidential election in early March, credits part of his success to his use of deepfakes. As a way to appeal to younger audiences, his campaign produced videos of an AI version of Yoon answering questions from voters. While controversial, the tactic is legal in South Korea, and its success may set a new global precedent.
Fantasy Author Raises $38 Million for New Books 
// The Verge

Brandon Sanderson has broken the all-time record for most successful crowdfunded project—by a wide margin—with an offering of four new self-published novels. Meeting his initial $1 million goal in less than 30 minutes, Sanderson went on to break the previous $20 million record within 3 days. He has since used some of the extra money to fund every other publishing project on Kickstarter.
How the Peabody Awards Finally, Officially Embraced Video Games
// Mashable

Debates over whether or not video games can be considered art feel like a thing of the distant past. Yet it took until 2022 for Peabody—one of the most prestigious curators of excellent storytelling across various forms of media—to begin officially recognizing the medium through its own designated category. On Thursday, March 24th, Peabody announced the inaugural winners of its new “Digital and Interactive Storytelling” awards, honoring 16 people, projects, and institutions that have made significant contributions to the field of interactive storytelling over the past 20 years. Once you’ve read this Mashable article about how the Peabodies changed their tune, check out the full list of award winners here.

 FoST exhibitors Arte and Atlas V won this year’s SXSW XR Experience competition with their piece On the Morning You Wake (to the End of the World).

 FoST collaborator WeTransfer won an Oscar for the short film The Long Goodbye, produced by the company‘s digital arts and editorial division, WePresent.

 FoST exhibitor Baobab won an Annie award for Best Special Production for its animated VR short Namoo.
 FoST speaker Nonny de la Peña won the inaugural Peabody Field Builder Award for her contributions to immersive journalism, technology innovation, and social and environmental justice.

 FoST collaborators Moment Factory and Meow Wolf both made Fast Company's list of Most Innovative Companies for 2022 for their pioneering work in live events.

 FoST exhibitor Felix & Paul Studios released a special bonus episode of its Space Explorers VR series featuring astronaut Victor Glover giving a tour of the ISS.

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

Discover the Intersection of Text Games and Theater
FEAST. is a hypertext fiction game that takes you on an interactive journey through a strange, near-future landscape as you search for your best friend, Whip. By casting the audience as both player and reader, FEAST. seeks to capture the immediacy of a live theater experience through autonomous gameplay. Further blurring the lines, the piece, which itself is experienced individually, is being offered in virtual group “performances” taking place now through April 7th. Get your tickets here.

Enjoy a Meditative Sunset Audio Experience
For readers in LA, NYC, and Seattle, The End of the Day is a beautiful and COVID-safe opportunity to leave the house and engage in some self-reflection. In select parks throughout each city with particularly good skyline views, you’ll find a bench with a mysterious plaque bearing a phone number and the words, “Make yourself comfortable. Call at sunset.” Doing so will initiate a meditative audio experience that prompts you to contemplate the sunset from your past, your present, and your future.

Explore Disney’s Filmmaking Process
Disney has made some of the world’s most successful and iconic animated films. Now, you can explore their process in depth via a new page on the Disney Animation Studios website that takes you on an interactive journey through a Disney film’s full production cycle, using the Oscar-winning Encanto as an example.

Enter the Immersive World of Bridgerton
Whether you’re a fan of the hit TV show or immersive theater in general, Secret Cinema’s Bridgerton experience is not to be missed. Equipped with your own personalized backstory and quest, you’ll enter an English high society party set in 1813 for a night of performances, surprises, scandal, and intrigue. Bridgerton runs in Los Angeles through April 24th.

Test Out an Impressive AI Writing Assistant has created an impressive AI writing tool that can craft a cogent paragraph based only on a few words or a sentence. The tool, which is still in beta testing, takes advantage of machine learning algorithms to create well-written paragraphs with little input from the user. This could be a valuable asset for students, professionals, and anyone who needs to write quickly and efficiently. Note: this blurb was written using the tool, with only the first sentence as input.
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