How can media move people beyond reaction to action?

At KCAD, we attempt to answer this question through the ongoing EPIC Project. We have collaborated with experts in universal design, neurodiversity, education, entertainment media, and minorities in media to explore, develop and test digital and physical products that will move audiences and users of educational and informational media to action. That action can include things like maximizing information retention, increasing empathy towards disenfranchised populations, taking steps to seek to improve one's mental health and improving attentiveness through joyful learning. We share the knowledge we gain and tools we create in places like the KCAD Digital Learning Center and the Adobe Education Exchange. We make our media available for free at places like the iTunes Store, Google Play store, Chrome Web Store, YouTube and our website: EPICSITE.org

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EPIC projects are research and innovation driven.

  • We will create collaborative teams of experts and end-users and engage in "understanding" interviews and exercises at the beginning of the project.
  • We will periodically obtain reviews from the team throughout the design process.
  • We will user test and record feedback from the end user
  • We will create reports that share the knowledge gained.

Design Guidelines

Accessible Design

The KCAD Digital Art & Design program is committed to creating media that is accessible to persons with disabilities and applying Universal Design best practices. All public-facing projects will adhere to these EPIC Accessible Design guidelines.


Our targeted audiences and users will range in age, gender, race, ethnicity, and neurodiversity. We will obtain ongoing advice and feedback from representative members of these groups during the design process. It is important for us to avoid negative stereotypes and implicit bias (test yourself). Examples of implicit bias can include unconscious stereotyping based on gender, race, fashion choices, body types, etc. The key difference between implicit bias and racism, sexism, etc. is that it is not a conscious choice. Rather it is subtly and constantly shaped by one's upbringing and socio-cultural environment.

Socio-emotional Driven Content Strategy

Content that speaks to three of the primary driver of the human experience. These may be addressed at different points within the media and may shift in emphasis and intensity as the audience/user experience progresses.

  • Our Tribal Nature: This is handled by the Limbic System in our brain, which has no capacity for language and is strictly focused on how we feel. The sense of belonging to a group is among the strongest drivers of human action and addresses the "why" we might believe or do many things. In your media, ask, then answer, the question: do we share a common belief about the way the world is or the way it should be.
  • Our Primal Reactions (also the Limbic System in our brain). Sometimes this is referred to as our "lizard" or "fight or flight" brains. It is the emotional aspect. Consider the 6 basic primal emotions we all share: joy, fear, disgust, surprise, sadness, anger. Here is a more extensive and nuanced list.
  • Our Valuation Process (this occurs in our neocortex, which evolved as we became homosapien) This is the appeal to logic. It's where rational and analytical thought occurs and language is processed. Facts, figures and diagrams are created and processed here. The value we assign them, however, is profoundly influenced by our primal and tribal natures.

Entertainment-Based Delivery Strategy

There are no greater masters of engagement than the entertainment industry. Applying these common strategies will ensure attentiveness and retention.

  • Use production methods and genres, such as animation, live-action video and games, that can compete with entertainment media in popular culture.
  • Include a brief, early introduction to the material that sets the overall emotional tone.
  • Create content narratives written from or to the point of view of the target audience.
  • A specific and emotional call to action that explains exactly what we want the audience/user to do now that they have this new knowledge.
  • Games should integrate the informational/educational content into the gameplay and avoid simply using the gameplay as a reward system.
  • Linear time-based works such as animation, books and video, should consider a four part story that includes:
    1. Life in Balance: the world in it's normal state
    2. Set up: the problem is presented, usually in the form of conflict. The conflict can be with the environment, external natural forces, the self or other persons.
    3. Body: the problem for the protagonist is exacerbated by internal or external forces (can have one, several or many parts).
    • Resolution: the problem solved, balance restored ... or not.
        • Optionally, the resolution can require one of the main protagonists or antagonists to make a moral decision in order to move the plot to it's end point. Many of the most successful stories in history contain this "moment of grace" component.


Do not use licensed characters or environments

Do not use images or audio from the internet unless you purchase them or receive expressed written consent or they are provided free for use through a creative commons license.

Do not use images, audio recordings or video of people with out their knowledge and consent. Here is our model release form.


Use the appropriate process for the media you are creating:

Guide created by KCAD professor Bill Fischer