My theory is that storytelling in the 21st century has an opportunity to be transformative in a way that enables those formerly known as the audience to become collaborators. Thanks to the democratization of tools to create and distribute media, the formerly top-down entertainment industry is now bubbling up with new stories and business models.
So at Columbia, we are working to build a Story Design lab that mixes narrative design, game mechanics, and design science to tackle social problems. Last week, we concluded a pilot for the Story Design lab. Columbia students and former foster kids (one being filmmaker Lydia Joyner) worked together to build an immersive storytelling experience. Participants came to realize that this was not just a sci-fi tale, but a story rooted in the experiences and feelings that our collaborating foster kids went through when they aged out of care. By designing with instead of designing for, the students and former foster kids built an experience that created emotional connections and empathy for those who age out of care.