Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Cup of Death/Zork…Interactive?

First off, I think it is important to look at the root of the word interactivity. First, the word interact comes to mind which by definition simply means to act upon one another. Next we should look at the definition of interactive which means to be mutually or reciprocally active or in reference to two-way electronic communication systems such as a telephone or a computer it involves a user’s orders or responses. Interactivity simply refers to the extent to which something is in fact interactive.

When it comes to narratives and games such as Zork and Cup of Death one may have a bit of trouble determining weather these things should be considered interactive. On one hand it may seem as though it is impossible for a game or a narrative to be interactive at all. Being that in a game such as Zork, there are only a limited amount of moves that can be made one my feel that is not truly interactive because you really don’t have much control, you just have different options to get to the next step. You can’t really do what you want. In a narrative such as Cup of Death, one may feel it’s not truly interactive because the story is written already and again you just have different options to get to the outcome. You really have no control over what happens.

I think that both Zork and Cup of Death both are in fact interactive. According to the definition I have for something being interactive both Zork and Cup of death fit. I believe Cup of Death is interactive because although the outcome is predetermined, I still have to interact with the story in order to get to the outcome. The fact that at the bottom of the page it gives me a choice as to what I want to do next forces me to interact with the book. As for Zork, The same principal is applied. If I don’t have an input the game will not respond because it requires me to interact with it and it will interact with me.

I think the main issue here is not weather the novel or game is interactive because I think by definition its clear that they are, but the level of interactivity is what needs to be in question. Some things are more interactive then others which is why it may be difficult to determine if certain things are interactive at all. I believe if you have to act to get a reaction then that is what makes something interactive weather it be a game, novel, computer program or whatever. The level of interactivity simply changes from subject to subject.

1 comment:

Adam Johns said...

You run several definitions together; you should be citing all of them.

More problematically, you don't really use your definitions at all when you're answering the question. Where do you see either the game or the CYOA being "reciprocally active"? You correctly note that nothing happens in either the game or the CYOA unless you do something - but how is that different from noting that the story in, say, "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep" doesn't move unless I turn the page?

This essay is very short, very basic, doesn't consider either the game or the book in any detail, and doesn't apply your own chosen definition.