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In the Epicentre of a Crisis: disLAB involves audience in an interactive crisis simulation

Visual Culture 3 April 2018


The most recent event from the series ‘disLAB presents’ put the audience through an interactive crisis simulation.

The workshop was hosted by Robert Pratten, founder and CEO of the company Transmedia Storyteller, which launched the scenario-based training platform, TeamXP. The crisis scenario presented was based on the recent Salisbury poisoning scandal. The audience, present at the ‘crime scene’, could choose a team to be part of – police or hospital staff.

The simulation started with a news item on the screen, followed by text messages, Twitter and Facebook updates, sent out on the audience’s personal smartphones. They had only six minutes to decide how to react and what operations to run in their department (shut down traffic to the whole city or the street, ask advice from their superiors).

The crisis simulation was followed by a hotwash, the immediate 'after-action' discussion, where Robert explained what had happened and discussed reactions. Guests were also taken ‘behind the scenes’ of the transmedia story making and were introduced to the technology behind the simulation.

Robert revealed the simulation from the ‘scenario master’ perspective as all the individual decisions made through phones were sent directly to him. Speaking about Team XP, Robert said: "What makes us unique is the storytelling layer - we think of a crisis as a black box and we simulate the communication process that is taken out of the black box, looking at the narrative of who is doing what."

A thought-leader in transmedia storytelling, Robert has also authored the book Getting Started in Transmedia Storytelling: A Practical Guide for Beginners. His client list includes the UK Ministry of Defence, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, VISA, World Bank, Kodansha, Al Jazeera, C-Net Training and PepsiCo.

The workshop was part of the Transmedia Week, which focused on Transmedia Education this year.

‘DisLAB presents’ is a series of free encounters, organised by the Digital and Interactive Storytelling LAB MA at the University of Westminster and aimed at those interested in digital journalism, interactive documentary, apps for social change, VR, educational video games or just digital communication. ‘DisLAB presents’ invites students and media makers to join the conversation with practitioners and unite them in a creative community.

Learn more about studying on the Digital and Interactive Storytelling LAB MA.

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