Monday, September 29, 2008

Cup of Death... and Interactivity

First things first. Why the Hell was this book called the Cup of Death? I could've sworn the book I read was about some tea bowl. Anyway, interactivity to me, is the effect on a user's actions on the outcomes of an event. However, the honest fact is, that in this book, my actions really do not effect the outcomes at all. They are already written down, and even though I may be able to choose different page numbers, I do not feel like I am really interacting with the book. Besides, if I happen to choose the cab ride that gets hit by a car, I can just flip back and pick the other option. Overall... pointless.

Interactivity should be more in depth then picking pre-determined ways to die, or ways to catch a thief. My actions should create its own set of unique outcomes, and not just a different combination of the same ones that everybody else can choose as well. I do understand that these books are intended for a much younger audience, and that being able to pick what the character can do may make reading more enjoyable. Kids like hands on activities and the choose your own adventure series makes reading a little more hands on.

True interactivity may be impossible to create in any book or video game. It can't be possible to create infinite possibilities in a book, and in the case of Zork and similar video games this is true as well. Although Zork and other games can program many more possible combinations that a user can go through. I believe that technology is getting close, especially with games like the Sims, where basically you can create a second life for yourself, to creating an interactive environment, but I can't give the nod to The Cup of Death to be considered interactive.


Philip said...

While you did answer the basic question, there are a couple of places that tripped me up for a second. These were small errors (on instead of of and then instead of than) but it pulled me out of what you were saying. Along with these is the second half of the last paragraph. The sentence you start with “Although Zork…” feels awkward and incomplete. With ‘although’ I would expect there to be a second part to the sentence, like some sort of an explanation why the subject is different. I found the very last sentence to be awkward and difficult to read. Rewording/reordering it would help a great deal.

I like how you acknowledge that we are not the intended audience for the book and that can skew our view. You briefly touch on whether or not an interactive narrative is possible, but I would like to see that explored more thoroughly. At the end you say that you think we are close to having a truly interactive experience via the Sims, but do you think that a game with an interactive narrative is possible? Opposing that line of thought, in the first sentence of the paragraph you say that “true interactivity may be impossible to create in any books or video games.” Is the Sims really that close or do you think that video games will never make it to the point of being truly interactive? Also, expand on why you think the Sims is the closest we’ve gotten to an interactive environment.

Adam Johns said...

Phil - I thought this was good feedback.

Chris - It's called cup of death because it leads to the narrator dying over and over again...

I understand the pointlessness you see in the CYOA. Does that make all games pointless in turn, or are other games fundamentally more interactive in some way? You start to answer that question - "My actions should create its own set of unique outcomes," which is good. Even your initial answer, that the Sims works, is a good start.

The problem is that this is a one page paper, which means that you are moving in an intelligent direction and then stop far short of answering your own questions - and there's even filler in this one page. It's a promising beginning, nothing more.