About Us

Get to know the team at the Digital Storytelling & Social Simulation Lab — our interests, our projects and our vision

Help Us Make the Metaverse a Better Verse.

At the DSSS Lab, artists and researchers join community and industry partners to create digital storytelling projects with a social purpose.

We build connections across the disciplines and beyond the campus to unleash the creative and artistic power of immersive new media and extended-reality technologies.

Our Team

David Leach, Director

David Leach

Director, Professor in the Department of Writing, Faculty of Fine Arts

Derek Jacoby

Technical Lead, Post-doc in Department of Computer Science

Emma de Blois

(2022- present)

Graduate Research Assistant, Departments of Writing and Computer Science

Aldyn Chwelos


Undergraduate Research Assistant, Department of Writing

Rushaan Chawla


Undergraduate Research Assistant, Department of Computer Science

Life Inside the “Lab”

In reality, the “lab” is a virtual concept that joins several real-world research facilities, home offices and temporary workshop spaces into a network of creative activity, including the Fine Arts Interactive Media (FAIM) Lab and the Studios for Integrated Media (SIM) Lab in Fine Arts 


The vision of the Digital Storytelling & Social Simulation Lab is to create a place — physical and virtual — to explore the unique potential of interactive storytelling to help us think critically and create positive change in society.


Goal #1

How can we improve simulated digital environments for more realistic, inclusive and emotionally compelling virtual experiences? 

Goals #2

How can we create immersive experiences that integrate 360° cinematic audiovisuals, embodied actor/audience presence and interactive agency?


Goal #3

How can we enhance spatial audio to deepen the immersive quality of multisensory virtual experiences?


Goal #4

How can we broadcast digital performances to reach under-served communities, reduce ecological impact and advance new hybrids of interactive art?

Goal #5

How can we design decolonized virtual spaces that preserve the heritage of Indigenous peoples, respect cultural protocols and respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission?

Goal #6

How can we assess the perceptual awareness, psychological engagement and emotional immersion of diverse audiences and understand the potential of digital storytelling as an “empathy machine”?


Based at the University of Victoria, the Digital Storytelling & Social Simulation (DSSS) Lab coordinates an interdisciplinary network of community-engaged scholars and digital artists to help community partners (co-ops, NGOs, start-ups) conceive, design, and produce interactive social simulations and digital storytelling projects that are accessible, engaging to the general public and younger audiences.