Interactive Media


Interactive Media

Heroic Reflections: Heroism in Popular, Visual and Digital Cultures, and Creative Production

Excerpt from the Journal: IM: Interactive Media, a refereed interdisciplinary electronic journal administered by the National Academy of Screen and Sound (Australia) and conceived as an interactive forum for researchers in screen and screen production.

Heroism remains a persistent phenomenon in both lived experience and the media in contemporary Western and non-Western societies. Media constructions of heroism are being generated and shaped at a rapid pace as our very culture becomes a mould for heroic acts and figures, their preservation, exaltation and, at times, damnation. The hero’s journey explored by renowned mythologist Joseph Campbell is the bedrock of a plethora of Hollywood films and popular culture, with scripts persistently using the hero’s journey as a narrative tool. Heroism is either explicitly or implicitly invoked in television’s cultural products such as reality shows, news commentaries, documentaries and so forth, evidencing the saturation of these and other cultural forms with heroic symbolism. Read More

Heroic Play

Heroic Play

Heroic Play:
Heroism in Mindful, Creative and Playful Participation

By Olivia Efthimiou, Murdoch University  - Excerpted from IM: Interactive Media

"The infiltration of mobile, locative and social technologies in our everyday interactions and daily rituals is having a profound impact on our sense of self and sensory experiences (Hjorth and Richardson 2014). The significance of hero archetypes in popular culture, gaming and creative production in the 21st st century has been discussed by a number of theorists (for examples see: Ardill 2008; Buchanan-Oliver and Seo 2012; Klisanin 2012; McLoone 2010; Viega 2012). The heroic use of technologies specifically, however, and representations of everyday heroic action in online, social and digital spaces is an emerging and innovative area of research (Klisanin 2015, in press). Here, the enduring phenomenon of heroism meets the postmodern cultural playful turn. Both heroism and playful participation are powerful emerging ways of theorising everyday lived experience, its meaning, and our active participation in contemporary societies. This marks evidence for “an important interdisciplinary moment across game, Internet, and media studies at a critical point in the cultural evolution of play” (Hjorth and Richardson 2014, 14), as well as the evolution of the concept of heroism and the production of heroic narratives at large. 

. . . 

Cyberhero League, “an interactive gaming adventure with real world consequences” currently in development, is an example of such novel forms of mindful play that encourage the proliferation of the cyberhero archetype in a seamless blurring of online and offline worlds (Klisanin 2015, 2). Cyberhero League spurs players to go on a series of quests or activities to collect historical and cultural artefacts hidden in locations around the world. Victory unlocks treasure in the form of real world aid for people, animals and at-risk environments, fostering heroic and playful engagement with the everyday." Read More

Tribeca Festival

Tribeca Festival



The Games for Change (G4C) Public Arcade will take place on Jay Street (between Greenwich & Hudson) in NYC, on April 23, 2016. Offering a full city block of digital and card games, live action games, hands-on building and a parkour obstacle course, the G4C Arcade celebrates the positive power of play. These games are not only fun, they’re also designed for learning and social change!  READ MORE HERE



Excerpt from: Awakening The Hero Within, HuffPost Impact

February 2, 2016 by Steven and Michael Meloan  
Authors of 'The Shroud'

Cyber Heroes

It appears that science is now confirming what has long been intuitively recognized--a primal resonance with story as a means of processing the world. It is an arc spanning from ancient epic tales, to modern Hollywood adventures, to the altruistic exploits of desktop Cyber Heroes, with up to 100 million now documented as having engaged in online activities directed toward "helping other people, animals, and the environment." And the computer gaming world is increasingly taking heed--with such initiatives as Games for Change,, and the Cyberhero League.

Story and myth allow us to better understand the past, and to envision a greater future. It is a uniquely human gift and predilection. And recognizing that we are literally hard-wired for such narratives, allows us to better harness such transformational possibilities--personally, and culturally. As Anthropologist Margaret Mead once noted, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

The call to adventure awaits us all--and brain circuits are standing-by. Let your imaginations soar.

Steven and Michael Meloan are authors of "The Shroud," a science-adventure novel exploring the spiritual impulse, tribalism and its manifestations in human behavior, and the intersection between science and spirituality


Interview with Founder

excerpt from Hacking Happiness, by John Havens

Interview with Founder

excerpt from Hacking Happiness, by John Havens


John Havens: Do you see Cyberhero League increasing compassion as well as altruism?  Are they different in your mind at all? 

Dana Klisanin: Yes, the Cyberhero League is designed to promote a number of character strengths and virtues, including compassion. The cyberhero is a new incarnation of the Hero archetype arising from the fusion of moral action and interactive technologies. The Cyberhero League is designed to promote this new archetype. To support our goal of increasing character strengths and virtues we have partnered with VIA Institute on Character, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing both the science and the practice of character.  

John Havens: What's the dream for the game? 

Dana Klisanin: The Cyberhero League is designed to support collaborative heroism. My dream is that the Cyberhero League will become a powerful force for tackling global challenges through extending the heroic journey across cyberspace. As a meta-level game it is a venue through which people of all ages can use interactive technologies act to act on behalf of other people, animals, and the environment. I dream that one day there will be a “cyberhero feature,” in all interactive media—that the Cyberhero League icon will be integrated into interactive media and become as ubiquitous as those of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest—facilitating a worldwide renaissance of human values and promoting the emergence of planetary consciousness. 
It’s not enough to encourage kids to act heroically.  We need to provide them models that show them how to do it.  And without methodologies like the Cyberhero League, the benefits of altruism can’t be introduced into the digital arena where kids can see its value to practice in the real world. 


American Psychological Association

American Psychological Association


Transcript from Interview with Audrey Hamilton, American Psychological Association

“Cyberheroes” are those who actively use the Internet and digital technologies to help others, animals and the environment, says psychologist Dana Klisanin, PhD. She researches how online interactions can promote compassion and altruism and is even designing a video game that could help young people tackle global challenges using their computers. In this episode, Dr. Klisanin discusses how social media and online interactions can be a force for good.

Audrey Hamilton: The study of online behavior often focuses on the negative, such as cyber-bullying or cyber-attacks. But psychologist Dana Klisanin is studying the ways people are using the Internet to help others. She calls it digital altruism. I’m Audrey Hamilton and this is “Speaking of Psychology. “

Dana Klisanin studies and designs media and interactive technologies that encourage people to live consciously. Dr. Klisanin is currently investigating the impact the internet and social media have on heroism. She is the designer of an award-winning online game “The Cyberhero League.” She is also the founder and CEO of Evolutionary Guidance Media R&D, Inc. Welcome, Dr. Klisanin. 

Dana Klisanin: Thank you. It’s nice to speak with you today. 

Audrey Hamilton: You study cyberheroes. What is a cyberhero? 

Dana Klisanin: Well, a cyberhero is an archetype. It’s a new archetype, a new form of the hero and the way I usually define it is as an individual who uses the internet or social media to help other people, animals or the environment. 

Audrey Hamilton: You describe something in your research called collaborative heroism. Can you talk about what that is and how it relates to the rise of social media? 

Dana Klisanin: Yes. Collaborative heroism is my most recent area of research and really, what it is – it’s – a lot of people have the idea that people who take action online – there’s a nickname that was coined to refer to that called “slacktivist.” And so, it gives this negative connotation that people who are taking action online are somehow slacking off on taking action and let’s just say, offline, getting out and about and collecting signatures or whatever. But actually, research has found that people who take action online are up to five times more likely to take action offline and to recruit other people to take action. 

So, the idea is that the cyber-activity, the cyberhero, blended with the offline activity creates a collaborative form of heroism that’s more powerful than either one separately. 

Audrey Hamilton: What are some examples of websites that encourage this type of heroic behavior? 

Dana Klisanin: Well, some of the social initiatives that I study that encourage this behavior include the Kony 2012 campaign as well as and Causes, which is part of the Facebook platform. 

Audrey Hamilton: And how is this type of, these types of sites – are they different in any essential ways from more traditional forms of heroism? Are they more powerful? 

Dana Klisanin: It’s very different than traditional forms of, or conceptualizations, of heroism because we normally associate the hero with risk – risk to one’s life – and with some of this online activity, you’re not really risking your life to engage in it unless there is a caveat there. Unless you live in a country where the internet is censured or you’re in some way restricted as to what, your freedom of speech and expression is restricted. 

I personally think that it’s a very powerful form of heroism, in a different way, but in anytime that you can get millions of people engaged together, you can create change. That’s the hope. 

Audrey Hamilton: Can you tell us about your project, The Cyberhero League? It sounds fascinating. 

Dana Klisanin: Cyberhero League is a game that I’m in the process of developing and what it is is just a way to spread the archetype knowledge about the archetype in a fun way to young people. I hope that people will play this across the age spectrum but it’s just a way to put the archetype out there and empower people to, you know, realize that they can use technology in this way. 

Audrey Hamilton: What does the game do? How does it work? 

Dana Klisanin: So the way the game works is the player signs up and his goal or her goal is to earn the badges of our participating non-profit organizations. Right now, we have over 13 non-profit organizations and we’re aiming to add more as we continue the development. But, what the player will do is complete a series of apprenticeships and in the process they’ll earn the badge of that particular non-profit. So, instead of earning fake badges, they’ll actually be earning the badge of the non-profit. And some of our non-profits are acting to protect indigenous peoples, the habitats of indigenous peoples. Others have to do with protecting the coral reefs and still others have to do with protecting the night sky from light pollution. So, we have a real large variety of areas that the players will learn about and take action on behalf of. 

So, one of the novel things about the Cyberhero League is while the player is completing the apprenticeships and playing the games, he or she is actually contributing towards the goals of the non-profits. In other words, funds are then given to the non-profits and the player gets the credit for having, let’s say, saved an acre of rainforest or fed someone or provided medicine or shelter and so forth. So, they’re actually making a difference in the world while they’re playing. 

Audrey Hamilton: Are you inspired by what you’ve discovered in your research? 

Dana Klisanin: Yes, I am inspired by what I’ve discovered in my research because I believe that this form of collaborative heroism is empowering and the cyber impact is also important because right now we hear so much about the cyber-bully – we hear about cyber-stalkers – we hear about cyber-crime – we hear about cyber-war. We very rarely hear anything, any positive words that have to do with the Internet and I do believe that some of the previous research I looked at in digital altruism and now in the cyberhero and collaborative heroism, help us to expand the way that we think of the potential of the web. That it can be used – and it is being used in positive ways and in order to promote that idea in society, we have to have words with which to speak of it. 

Audrey Hamilton: Great. Thank you so much for joining us, Dr. Klisanin. 

Dana Klisanin: Thanks for inviting me.

Audrey Hamilton: For more information on Dr. Klisanin’s work, please visit our website. With the American Psychological Association’s “Speaking of Psychology,” I’m Audrey Hamilton. 



THE FUTURIST Interviews Dana Klisanin, Creator of the Cyberhero League

Several technologies and social innovations were featured in the second Futurists: BetaLaunch (F:BL) invention expo, part of the recently-concluded WorldFuture 2012 conference Dream. Design. Develop. Deliver. (Toronto July 27-29). F:BL is a “petting zoo” where WorldFuture attendees can interact with artifacts from the future and engage with the exhibitors. Below is an interview between THE FUTURIST magazine and Dana Klisanin, CEO, Evolutionary Guidance Media R&D, Inc. and creator of the Cyberhero League, a social platform that will enable children to actively impact the welfare of people, animals, and the environment through everyday activities, and one of ten F:BL winners. Read More