Tuesday, June 20th, 2006
Interactivity is an interesting and volatile issue. I’m excited because Chris Crawford’s Storytronics seems close to realization and hopefully some revelations along with it. My connection to the idea of an interactive story–where resolutions may be affected by reader protagonists–is spatial in the sense that people can arrange their world at small and large scales. We interact with the world at several levels: psychologically, cognitively, emotively, and kinetically. Some experiences are passive, others more agressive in terms of imprinting ourselves onto surfaces. I consider building a wall as an intensely un-interactive, whereas building a conversation, exchanging gifts, or sharing an experience are highly interactive because in these three cases I am in the presence of agency with which I must negociate.
If the stones fall, they don’t laugh at my broken fingers. How about being chased by hornets? They have minds of their own, right? Obviously a person can’t stand their ground and reason with them. These are really passive or reactive situations in a context of interactivity as a means of describing the affective quality of experience. But this may also be a distinction among technologies. A book-based novel can be manipulated, but it’s protagonist, Arthur, for example, cannot be undone from the book. In the book, we experience the story by exploring it, and that’s exactly what we should be doing with it. The right novel can change the reader. In this case, the meaning of the book or its interpretive depth (our cognitive interactions) has nothing to do with its proportional interactivity. Does interpretative depth depend upon the apparatus?
I wonder if this has anything to do with systems of politics and governing. Democracy, broadly speaking, would appear to have a high degreee of interactivity since people can directly shape its outcome, whereas a totalitarian system would have low degree if confined to the definition offered above.