Empowering Makers with “The Search for Harmony”

 Apr 22, 2016   Burning Topics, Case study, Practice   No Comments

By Nick Ray, American University

Interactive stories, when executed well, can be a powerful tool to help an audience discover and explore complex issues that may not fit cleanly into other formats. In particular, a web-based project benefits from an interconnectedness that can help advocates both engage their audience with a project, and provide a means to take action in the same browser.

SearchForHarmonyHarnessing the diverse nature of the web, however, is a double-edged sword. The number of tools at a web storyteller’s disposal is vast, but so is the list of creative decisions to be made and technical knowledge to accrue, either directly or through partners. Technical execution continues to be a source of struggle, as skills outside the storyteller’s domain are dependent on developers who are both proficient enough to know the right tools for the job, and share the goal of making a compelling experience.

Much of my work in this space involves tacking that issue, and The Search for Harmony is no exception. Recently awarded an NEH Start-Up Grant, this web-based game by Spark Media will explore the influence on classical music by people of African descent. Beyond that goal, much of the code that powers the project I will build and document as a WordPress plugin, so that future projects can leverage this open-source work in their own similar web games. While eliminating the need for a developer is not realistic, this tool may reduce costly development time in a future project, lowering the barrier for creation, and hopefully making more impact-oriented web games a reality.


Screen capture from a minigame you can play here.

You can learn more about The Search for Harmony here and follow our progress via Twitter.


Nick Ray is a web architect with a passion for building experiences that inspire positive action. His background in both film and web development manifests in the diversity of his projects, ranging from campaign and nonprofit websites, to mobile applications, to web-based film projects and platform consulting. Serving as an adjunct at American University, he seeks to empower students with those same communication tools that are crucial to reach a public accustomed to information at their fingertips.


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