Story is how we make sense of the world.

In a holistic narrative, the design of a well-researched, richly-detailed world precedes the emergence of story, becoming a platform for visionary and predictive imagination. Fiction built on deep knowledge allows us to construct a disruptive space for multiple stories to emerge logically, organically and coherently from the coding of its design.

However, true disruption emerges when this intersects with radical new technologies, enabling a shift from author-directed control of the viewer’s gaze to a dynamic relationship between designed worlds, the characters within them, and the human lens.

This is true whether the world being built is fictional, or the future of our own.

The World Building Media Lab (WbML), directed by award-winning designer and professor Alex McDowell RDI, defines an experiential, collaborative and interdisciplinary practice that integrates imagination and emergent technologies, creating new narratives from inception through iteration and prototyping into multimedia making.

The WbML explores best practices for designing vast storyworlds that unfold across multiple media platforms, including those that don’t exist yet; exploring and inventing new mediums for storytelling; and applying those findings to solving real-world problems, ranging from creating future scenarios for Fortune 100 companies to envisioning possible solutions to the refugee crisis and environmental catastrophes. The WbML’s unique position at the intersection of academia and industry provides a neutral, fertile common ground for thought leaders, artists and executives to collaborate, yielding insights that have led to breakthroughs in storyworlds, business models, policies and patentable technologies.

World in a Cell

IN EARLY 2017, the World-building Media Lab (WbML) led by Professor Alex McDowell at USC School of Cinematic Arts, began this major collaboration with the Bridge Institute, to create a fully experiential virtual world of a single Pancreatic Beta Cell, using the metaphor of the complex systems of a city.…