30+ Immersive Storytelling platforms, apps, resources & tools (updated for 2020)

lance weiler
Jul 23, 2017 · 8 min read

The following list was compiled by an amazing group of storytellers from around the world. Last semester, while I was teaching Building Storyworlds: the art, craft & biz of storytelling in 21c at Columbia University, I reached out via a facebook post for immersive storytelling platform, app, resource and tool recommendations.

Each semester my students design, prototype and present an immersive adaption of Sherlock Holmes. I shared some of the following list with the class in an effort to provide a sandbox for their experimentation. Since the semester ended, I’ve discovered a few additional resources that I’ve included below.

Big thanks to everyone who contributed (see list at the end of the post). Please feel free to add anything that may have been missed.

Before you jump to the list I need your help. I’m currently preparing for a new immersive storytelling course that I’ll be teaching this fall at Columbia University’s School of the Arts. Students from across the University will be working to design, build and produce a special “de-escalation” room that will be presented to the public at the end of the semester.

Course description: What if we built an immersive storytelling experience that modeled negative conversations and behaviors found on social media platforms? Inside of this environment, situations quickly escalate. But this time, we would be able to do something about it.

Imagine a space where a diversity of participants work together through story, play, design and collaboration to de-escalate situations that stem from misunderstanding and polarization. To create this “De-Escalation Room” we’ll harness emerging technologies, storytelling, collaborative methodologies and field research to design and build an innovative immersive storytelling experience that can scale.

Teams of students will work to design, build and deploy a digital storytelling experience modeled on data derived from research conducted by SAFELab within the school of social work. SAFELab’s research examines a rise in real world violence linked to social media behavior.

This course combines project work, mentors, and collaborative methods to create a dynamic, hands-on environment that mixes story, code and experience design. It will guide students through a design process uniquely tailored for experiential environments, combining elements at the cutting edge of immersive storytelling in film, gaming, theater, and emerging technology. In addition, teams will have the opportunity to share work and receive feedback from working industry professionals, across a variety of disciplines.

WANTED: Mentors, partners, organizations and others who are interested in helping to make the “De-Escalation” room framework a reality. Our goal is to release our efforts under a creative commons license so others can experiment, remix and continue to build upon an open resource. If you’re interested please contact me at hello [at] digitalstorytellinglab [dot] com for more details.

Now onto the list…

The following was update 1/24/20

1. Product Hunt (directory updates daily)

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Product Hunt is a curation of the best new products, every day. Discover the latest mobile apps, websites, and technology products that everyone’s talking about.

2. Invision App (prototyping)

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Invision — The world’s leading prototyping, collaboration & workflow platform

3. Marvel App (prototyping)

Marvel App — Turn sketches, mockups and designs into web, iPhone, iOS, Android and Apple Watch app prototypes.

4. Hopscotch (games + art)

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Hopscotch — For curious people of all ages. Make your own games, art, and more. Tons of in-app tutorials and even lesson plans to help you! You’ll be coding in no time.

5. Torch (augmented reality)

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Torch Build powerful augmented reality experiences that anyone can open in a mobile browser.

6. Blippar (augmented reality)

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Blippbuilder No coding skills needed. Transform packaging, ads, magazines, posters and more. Step by step tutorials ensure you’ll soon be an augmented reality pro.

7. HoloKit (augmented reality)

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HoloKit, the low cost open source mixed reality experience, which includes the HeadKit cardboard headset and TrackKit software. With your smartphone and Mixed Reality apps, HoloKit provides you access to the world of Mixed Reality right in your hands, affordably.

8. AR.js with A-Frame Magic (Web AR)

Augmented Reality in 10 lines of HTML — Do you want to do Augmented Reality on the web ? You can now do it in 10 lines of HTML! Seriously!

9. Eko (interactive video)

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Eko presents interactive VR short film Broken Night at Tribeca Film Festival where the viewer can influence the story.

Eko — Pioneering a new medium where viewers shape the story as it unfolds. The result is streaming digital interactive video that allows our viewers to affect, control, and influence narrative live-action entertainment.

10. Viar360 (virtual reality)

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Viar360 — Providing easy to use virtual reality tools to create interactive, immersive VR stories that can be shared and embedded.

11. Wonda VR (virtual reality)

Wonda VR authoring tool for creating interactive video apps for Gear VR & Cardboard.

12. Dexter (Build an AI chatbot)

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Dexter — Dexter is the platform for businesses, brands, and people to create meaningful automated conversations.

13. Cheap Bots Done Quick (Twitter Bot)

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Cheap Bots Done Quick — This site will help you make a Twitterbot! They’re easy to make and free to run.

14. Conducttr (Immersive story-gaming platform)

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Conducttr is a simulation platform that allows you to develop and deploy immersive scenario-based experiences.

15. Sam Labs (Prototype with IoT)

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SAM Labs — Build and program IoT based prototypes with SAM, a collection of wireless blocks and a drag and drop interface.

16. Shiftr.io (Prototype with IoT)

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With shiftr.io the process of interconnecting objects, devices and apps becomes more accessible and less complex. Regardless of whether you are building an interactive installation, prototyping the next connected product or simply playing around with new technologies, shiftr.io lets you add connectivity to your project in the early stage.

17. Little Bits (IoT prototyping)

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LittleBits is the New York-based education startup that invented the electronic building block. These magnetic “Bits” snap together to turn ideas into inventions

18. Makey Makey (IoT prototyping fun)

Makey MakeyEver played Mario on Play-Doh or Piano on Bananas? Alligator clip the Internet to your world and start inventing the future.

19. Twine (interactive fiction)

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Twine is an open-source tool for telling interactive, nonlinear stories. You don’t need to write any code to create a simple story with Twine, but you can extend your stories with variables, conditional logic, images, CSS, and JavaScript when you’re ready.

20. Texture Writer (interactive fiction)

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Data Doesn’t Lie a story by Jim Munroe with Illustrations by Luc Allenet de Ribemont

TextureWriter, makes creating interactive fiction easy via a drag and drop interface. A nice feature is TextureWriter’s approachable word-on-word mechanic suitable for touchscreens, phones and browsers.

21. Appy Pie (create a mobile app)

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Appy Pie is a mobile app creator released for Android, iOS, Fire OS, and Windows Phone platforms that allows its users to create and monetize different types of mobile apps.

22. Sketchfab (3D content market)

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Sketchfab is empowering a new era of creativity by making it easy for anyone to publish, share, and discover 3D content on the web or in VR. With a community of over 1 million creators who have published over 1.5 million scenes, Sketchfab is the world’s largest platform for immersive and interactive 3D.

23. GuriVR (virtual reality)

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(Topher McCulloch, licensed under CC)

GuriVR — You need not be a coder to create VR experiences. The GuriVR editor interprets your words and creates the world. Describe your VR experience and the editor will do the rest.

24. Panda Suite (app publishing)

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Panda Suite — Create content for mobile, tablet and desktop without any coding in iOS/Android/HTML5. Play with Panda’s native sensors and technologies: 3D, virtual reality or beacon sensors.

25. Quasar (responsive sites & mobile apps)

Quasar Framework — Build desktop & phone/tablet apps simultaneously. Create responsive sites, hybrid mobile Apps and Electron apps with VueJs 2.

26. Shadertoy (WebGL)

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Shadertoy is the first application to allow developers all over the globe to push pixels from code to screen using WebGL

27. Story Maps (narrative mapping)

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With Esri Story Maps, you can combine your maps with narrative text, images, and multimedia content to create compelling, user-friendly web apps.

28. Coggle (collaborative mind-mapping )

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Coggle is a collaborative mind-mapping tool that helps you make sense of complex things.

29. StoryStylus

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StoryStylus is a simplified narrative game engine developed by One More Story Games (OMSG). StoryStylus was designed with authors in mind — the developers have also successfully taught over 100 children aged 8+ how to create their own narrative games using the engine. OMSG is adapting “Shakespeare’s Landlord,” a novel by #1 NYT bestselling author Charlaine Harris with StoryStylus.

30. Paste (simple presentations with rich media)

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Paste is a new way to copy and paste for Mac and iOS. It stores text, images, links, files and everything else you copy allowing you use your clipboard history anytime you need it across all your devices.


Special thanks to: Siobhan O’Flynn, Trevor Haldenby, Elizabeth Strickler, Michael Monello, Leon Moodley, Simone Nelson, Ira Deutchman, Laura Ruggiero, Heidi McDonald, Annie Laurie Malarkey, Simon Staffans, Jim Gunshanan, Jeff Watson, Lorri Hopping, Gary Hayes, Ryan Majestic, Loren Heyns, Aramique Krauthamer, Andrew Schneider, Fabienne Olivier, Heidi Miller, Susan Ne Hofer, Jason Lempieri, Dan Mirvish and anyone else who contributed to the discussion I may have missed.

Columbia DSL

Exploring new forms and functions of storytelling at…

lance weiler

Written by

Storyteller working with Code - Founding member & Director of the Columbia University Digital Storytelling Lab - curates @creativemachines

Columbia DSL

Exploring new forms and functions of storytelling at Columbia University School of the Arts' Digital Storytelling Lab

lance weiler

Written by

Storyteller working with Code - Founding member & Director of the Columbia University Digital Storytelling Lab - curates @creativemachines

Columbia DSL

Exploring new forms and functions of storytelling at Columbia University School of the Arts' Digital Storytelling Lab

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