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I have curated Virtual Lesban Looks since its inception in 2010. VLL offers a portal to the exciting new world of made-for-the-web programming. When Lesbian Looks started in 1993, you could count the number of lesbian-themed feature films on one hand, and the number of television shows with a lesbian character (usually a special guest on one episode) on the other. Today, you can find dozens of programs online, created by LGBT filmmakers for LGBT audiences.

In today’s media landscape, in which iTunes, YouTube and Hulu have joined network and cable programming in the competition for viewer attention, web-based series present an exciting new avenue for both veteran and emerging filmmakers to launch fresh projects, develop a fan base, and sometimes parlay a low-budget experiment into a television deal or feature film.

screen-shot-2017-01-03-at-10-53-22-amI have also coordinated several theme weeks for In Media Res on topics including Collaborative Storytelling, Fan Tourism, and Transformative Games.

With Collaborative Storytelling, we had an exciting line-up of authors and contributions ranging from interactive documentary processes to collaborative Twitter poetry, and of course games as storytelling. For the purpose of this collection, we defined collaborative storytelling loosely and left contributors room for interpretation. Collaborative storytelling is any type of shared construction of a narrative or fictional world. The shared construction can be between multiple authors, or between author and audience. It can be multi-modal or transmedial in nature with complex interwoven narratives and vast participatory worlds, or it can be a single medium with a simple decision-based mechanic (multiple choice, roll of the dice, etc.).

Fan tourism, “location vacations,” or pop-culture tourism is a growing industry across the world, changing local economies, culture, and ambiance. Fans of various pop texts and icons have been making pilgrimages to real-world locations for decades, from Abbey Road to Forks, Washington, from 221B Baker Street to Graceland, Tennessee. In Media Res is looking for explorations into fan tourism as a general cultural practice. Investigations can be through a case study of a particular fandom, location, or behavior, taking into consideration the ways that fan tourism can be beneficial and detrimental to real world economies, infrastructures, and local cultures.

Transformative games are designed to initiate a change in the players’ beliefs or behaviors, a concentrated version of their predecessors in serious and educational games. Examples of “transformative games” include: Never Alone, Walden, Ballot Box Bumble, and The Oldest Game. Transformative games are digital and analog, single and multi-player, collaborative and competitive. In Media Res is looking for contributions that tackle issues specific to transformative games.