Collab: Immersive Narrative
PSAM 5550A, CRN 3591

Melanie Crean,
Kyle Kan Yang Li,
Mondays 7:00 – 9:40
63 5th Ave, room 502

This collab will explore a range of immersive narrative techniques and new forms of spectatorship, questioning how they might be employed to convey and experience different views of controversial issues. The class will look at the evolution of concepts such as immersion, presence, interaction and engagement as applied to precedents from art, design, and gaming. The class will also speak directly with artists, designers and creative activists experimenting with how to promote personal exchange and investigate both the potential and limits of new forms of immersive environments and interactions.

Research and prototyping will be geared toward the Don Quixote collaborative narrative project, based out of The Point, a non-profit arts organization in the South Bronx. This project explores how personal stories about confrontations with the criminal justice system might be told, as well as how media affects the reception of such stories, both positively and negatively. Course work will experiment with how different forms of exchange and immersion might facilitate shifting perception, exchanging POV, and considering multiple POV’s of a single event, to be prototyped and tested with the The Point.

Course Work

The goal for the class is to prototype tools that experiment with how immersive media or experience can be used to bring people together to have difficult conversations, and consider one another’s point of view. At the end of term, students will create a Make Magazine type visual instruction document of how to recreate their prototypes, that will be used as part of a “toolkit” being created by project partners at The Point. Prototypes will be based on the three prompts below, concerning immersion and POV. The Point’s goal for these prototypes / tools / experiences is to bring police and community members together; but it would be helpful for any practitioner working with immersive, collaborative or open narrative, regardless of content, to prototype similar mechanisms.

  • Prototype 1, done with other class members, due Sep 28th. Based on the prompt: create the means to shift, alter or change another person’s perception. This will be a concept / paper prototype, something produced quickly with disposable materials, to give quick form to your ideas. Potential forms might include diagrams, story boards, paper models, user scenario description or mockup, etc.
  • Prototype 2, created with partners at The Point, due Oct 26th at midterms. Based on the prompt: create the means to perceive through another, or, create the means to exchange POV (point of view) or senses with another. This could include forms of “sensory” cooperation, i.e. using one person’s eyes and another’s ears to perform a task. This will be an interactive prototype, meaning something that mocks up how a person would engage with the piece.
  • Prototype 3, created with partners at The Point, due Dec 14th at finals. Based on the prompt: create means to experience story or event from multiple perspectives. You are encouraged to consider multiple forms of media: performance, video, mobile, VR, projection map, game etc. This will be a “proof of concept” high fidelity prototype, which means that you should prototype the central mechanic of the piece to demonstrate feasibility. Content or skin will up to you. The final deliverable for class will be a Make Magazine visual instruction set that describes how to re-create the piece, swapping content or skin as desired.

Final Deliverables:

  • Goal / summary: short summary of what type of interaction you’ve created, its form, its goal
  • Mechanic: what is the central mechanic, how does it function, how does it create meaning
  • Rule set
  • Basic tech outline, or any basic info on how to recreate project (i.e., pdf’s of card decks)
  • User scenario, sample play though as necessary
  • Image of the sample set up or play testing

1st or 2nd prototypes that didn’t go beyond a single iteration can be documented in a couple paragraphs (or a short summary + a rule set).
Final prototype documentation should be approximately 6 paragraphs / 2 pages / 1000 words, including a short assessment on how the prototype functioned in relation to the stated goal, and how it might be further iterated to achieve that goal. Documents should be formatted as pdf’s. Please post your goal statement and a sample image to the blog, along with a link to the pdf.

The goal for the class is to prototype tools that experiment with how immersive media or experience can be used to bring people together to have difficult conversations, consider one another’s point of view, or facilitate mutual understanding.

Learning Outcomes
By the successful completion of this course, students should be able to:

  • Understand basic principles of immersive storytelling, its application, and relation to technology
  • Become familiar with important art and design precedents involving immersive storytelling and exchange
  • Develop a set of design principles for creating immersive storytelling or documentary projects, and translate those ideas and methods into a project based response
  • Collaborate with outside partners to create and iterate prototypes facilitating new forms of spectatorship and point of view


  • If / how can we create the means to shift an individual’s perspective of reality? Does this allow us to understand the process of perception better?
  • If / how can we create the means to exchange POV with another, to see through someone else’s eyes? Does this allow us help us to become more familiar, to better understand the life and experience of that person?
  • If / how is it possible to represent multiple perceptions of single event? Does this facilitate the understanding multiple viewpoints, opinions?
  • What are different ways to make an experience immersive?
  • Does locative media, placing the viewer at the site of narrative, affect their spectatorship, their experience of that story? Does this differ according to style (reenactment, interview), or type of space (public, building, installation)?
  • If / how might asking people coming from different sides of a conflict the same question, promote understanding of one another? (Who are you, what do you dream about, what motivates you)

Criteria for evaluation
Students in the course will receive feedback in the following areas:

  • Critical Thinking: Is critical thought and analysis evident in critiques, presentations, discussions; written work, and project based work?
  • Conceptualization: how well is the student able to formulate and articulate a concept or question that frames the trajectory of their making?
  • Communication: How well is the student able to express their ideas, through spoken, written, and project based forms?
  • Creative Process: What are the strengths and weaknesses of the student’s creative process? Is the student able to evaluate their work, identify areas for future development, and iterate their work accordingly?
  • Contextualization and Connection: To what degree has the student been able to research and connect the central themes of the course to their own work? Is this clearly demonstrated in their class participation, project presentation, and written work?
  • Appropriate Use of Technology / Medium: Is the student making good choices about the type and form of technology or medium they are using to express their creative ideas?

Final Grade Calculation

Class participation 20%
Prototype 1 (shift another’s perception) 20%
Prototype 2 (see through another’s eyes) 20%
Prototype 3 (multiple perspectives on particular instance) 40%

Graduate Grade descriptions

A Work of exceptional quality
A- Work of high quality
B+ Very good work
B Good work; satisfies course requirements
B- Below-average work
C+ Less than adequate work
C Well below average work
C- Poor work; lowest possible passing grade
F Failure
GM Grade missing for an individual

Grade of W
The grade of W may be issued by the Office of the Registrar to a student who officially withdraws from a course within the applicable deadline. There is no academic penalty, but the grade will appear on the student transcript. A grade of W may also be issued by an instructor to a graduate student (except at Parsons and Mannes) who has not completed course requirements nor arranged for an Incomplete.

Grade of WF
The grade of WF is issued by an instructor to a student (all undergraduates and all graduate students) who has not attended or not completed all required work in a course but did not officially withdraw before the withdrawal deadline. It differs from an “F,” which would indicate that the student technically completed requirements but that the level of work did not qualify for a passing grade. The WF is equivalent to an F in calculating the grade point average (zero grade points), and no credit is awarded.

Grades of Incomplete
The grade of I, or temporary incomplete, may be granted to a student under unusual and extenuating circumstances, such as when the student’s academic life is interrupted by a medical or personal emergency. This mark is not given automatically but only upon the student’s request and at the discretion of the instructor. A Request for Incomplete form must be completed and signed by student and instructor. The time allowed for completion of the work and removal of the “I” mark will be set by the instructor with the following limitations: Work must be completed no later than one year following the end of the class. Grades of “I” not revised in the prescribed time will be recorded as a final grade of “WF” (for Parsons and
Mannes graduate students) or “N” (for all other graduate students) by the Office of the Registrar. The grade of “N” does not affect the GPA but does indicate a permanent incomplete.

Divisional, Program and Class Policies

● Responsibility
Students are responsible for all assignments, even if they are absent. Late assignments, failure to complete the assignments for class discussion and/or critique, and lack of preparedness for in-class discussions, presentations and/or critiques will jeopardize your successful completion of this course.

● Participation
Class participation is an essential part of class and includes: keeping up with reading, assignments, projects, contributing meaningfully to class discussions, active participation in group work, and coming to class regularly and on time.

● Attendance
Faculty members may fail any student who is absent for a significant portion of class time. A significant portion of class time is defined as three absences for classes that meet once per week and four absences for classes that meet two or more times per week. During intensive summer sessions a significant portion of class time is defined as two absences. Lateness or early departure from class may also translate into one full absence.

● Canvas
Use of Canvas may be an important resource for this class. Students should check it for announcements before coming to class each week.

● Delays
In rare instances, I may be delayed arriving to class. If I have not arrived by the time class is scheduled to start, you must wait a minimum of thirty minutes for my arrival. In the event that I will miss class entirely, a sign will be posted at the classroom indicating your assignment for the next class meeting.

● Electronic Devices
Use of electronic devices (phones, tablets, laptops) is permitted when the device is being used in relation to the course’s work. All other uses are prohibited in the classroom and devices should be turned off before class starts.

● Academic Honesty and Integrity
The New School views “academic honesty and integrity” as the duty of every member of an academic community to claim authorship for his or her own work and only for that work, and to recognize the contributions of others accurately and completely. This obligation is fundamental to the integrity of intellectual debate, and creative and academic pursuits. Academic honesty and integrity includes accurate use of quotations, as well as appropriate and explicit citation of sources in instances of paraphrasing and describing ideas, or reporting on research findings or any aspect of the work of others (including that of faculty members and other students). Academic dishonesty results from infractions of this “accurate use”. The standards of academic honesty and integrity, and citation of sources, apply to all forms of academic work, including submissions of drafts of final papers or projects. All members of the University community are expected to conduct themselves in accord with the standards of academic honesty and integrity. Please see the complete policy in the Parsons Catalog.

It is the responsibility of students to learn the procedures specific to their discipline for correctly and appropriately differentiating their own work from that of others. Compromising your academic integrity may lead to serious consequences, including (but not limited to) one or more of the following: failure of the assignment, failure of the course, academic warning, disciplinary probation, suspension from the university, or dismissal from the university.

● Student Disability Services (SDS)
In keeping with the University’s policy of providing equal access for students with disabilities, any student with a disability who needs academic accommodations is welcome to meet with me privately. All conversations will be kept confidential. Students requesting any accommodations will also need to meet with Jason Luchs in the Office of Student Disability Services, who will conduct an intake, and if appropriate, provide an academic accommodation notification letter to you to bring to me. SDS assists students with disabilities in need of academic and programmatic accommodations as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and Section 504 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

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