Saturday, February 2, 2008


Interaction - “Mutual or reciprocal action or influence.”

Interactivity has become a tech-buzzword for every product, service or concept in business over the past decade. In relation to games, it is universally accepted as part of the definition. Players have to interact with something in a game, no?

So can a game become a non-interactive form of entertainment, but still remain a game? What is the NFL? What about watching a chess match? What about poker tournaments on TV? The reason this distinction intrigues me is that if we can begin to understand when watching someone else playing a game becomes entertaining to us, perhaps we can better understand how to incorporate stories into games, or games into stories.

When does a cut-scene in a video game become an asset instead of an annoyance? When does a DM’s introduction to a quest become captivating instead of informational? How can the Packers break my heart in the playoffs, when losing in Madden online barely annoys me?

Is interactivity a core necessity of a game, or should it be viewed as a tool to be used judiciously in an effort only to enhance the game? How much interaction is too much, or is there such a thing? Audience vs. Player, or can it be both in a good game?


MementoMori said...

It's hard to say. The way one would choose to define art comes into play as well. Because most would say TV, movies, paintings, books, etc would be 'art'.

But would you say a game is 'art'? If so, why isn't it naturally bagged in with the others?

If not, does this interactivity have something to do with it?

brandon j said...

I think that most people would say SOME TV, movies, paintings, books, etc CAN be considered art.

The great debate has raged on, and I have yet to form a coherent personal opinion yet.

But sidestepping the 'art' issue for a second, what I was trying to examine was at what point does a story become a game in regards to interactivity? Where the old 'choose-your-own-adventure' books a game? What about the movie "Clue"...

The reason I ponder this, is because if we can begin to understand where games overlap other entertainment genres, perhaps we can begin to incorporate better stories into games.