We were pleasantly surprised to learn that the Center for Media and Social Impact had been following a game we made in 2011 for Urban Ministries of Durham about surviving homelessness called SPENT. But it makes sense, considering our shared interest in using media to help others. So when CMSI asked if Group Creative Director, and co-creator of SPENT, Jenny Nicholson would speak at their annual conference in Washington, D.C., she agreed.
Called Story Movements, the “convening” held September 15 and 16 is an expanded re-launch of CMSI’s successful Media That Matters conference, which brought together thought leaders in media and social change for more than a decade. Participants examine platforms and genres of civic media storytelling through the lens of social justice and social inequality. “From documentary film to investigative journalism to virtual reality to persuasive gaming to photography, the convening examines and captures the current and future-looking moment in story-led demands for social change,” explains the company’s website.
“The power of creative storytelling to ignite social change has always been a passion of mine,” said Jenny. “I’m thrilled that I’ll join forces with so many different thinkers and creators, all of whom are as focused on this issue as I am.”
Five years after SPENT launched, players still spend more than 11 minutes on the site, where they must make the same difficult decisions about money and resources that the families and individuals served by UMD must make every single day. Whether players make it through the month, and the end of the game, with money left over or not, they’re asked to share SPENT, get involved with UMD or donate via PayPal. In 2014, we launched a mobile version of SPENT.
Those attending Story Movements will hear short-form TED-style talks on the first day and participate in an interactive social justice “create-athon” on the second day.