Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Interactivity and the Lack of Reality in Zork

Interactivity, to me, is the ability to have an action and re-action from two or more things that cause a series of events. Now, just writing these blogs and all the responses is a way of interactivity between us, as classmates and with our teacher. Other various ways of interacting include sports, music, the internet, classes, and the list can go on and on. Now, interacting between two or more people is one thing, but interacting with a computer is another.

While playing Zork, I tried a variety of commands and the game would only let me do certain things. When I would try something new, I was told it was "not known," or "can't go that way." The game took away what I feel is a little bit necessary and that is a screen. When playing a game on X-Box 360 or PlayStation 3 we can interact easier because we can physically see what we are doing and where we are going. We can see our mistakes, and decide how to correct them much easier. Playing this game made it seem like reading a book except the book talked back and would yell at you if you did not do the right thing.

And what is the right thing really? Trying to find the right command for some things was like finding a needle in a hay stack. But at other times it was very simple. I do believe that this game has all the ability of being completely interactive but it's not the same as interacting with people. The program has a set of desired commands and predetermined responses. In reality, no one has a set response or desired command. We are not robots. We do not run on batteries. We do not have micro processing chips in our heads with all the information stored on them. We never know what will happen from day to day. That's what makes real interactions between multiple people so much more intriguing.

We never know what to expect from one another. That's the element of surprise. We live our lives in a world that requires interactivity or nothing would ever get done. Try to imagine a world where no one talks to another human being, just interaction with computers. Imagine a world of people that just played Zork all day and all night. We would be zombies and we would lack life experiences that would be beneficial to our survival. Playing Zork can't give us that but other activities can. That's really all we need in life is interactivity with other people. And it doesn't matter how we do it, the fact that we interact with people is our way of life. And if it wasn't for other people, who would we talk to?


Max Black said...

My main advise is for you to just expand on your ideas. Its on the shorter side but I feel like theres a lot you can add to it.

Your definition confuses me a little when you state "an action and re-action from two or more things that cause a series of events". Are you saying interaction can't be brief with just one action and re-action or that you need one of each?

I think you need to focus more on whether or not Zork is interactive. You say it is but then you sort of contradict it by stating that the answers are pre-programmed and its not like a human interaction.

I also don't really see a response to the last part of the prompt on how interactivity adds to a narrative. You talk a lot about how it relates to life, but not how its effects the story telling. How is it different than a normal book?

Adam Johns said...

Max - You start out vague, but get more specific - it seems like it's going to be bad advise, but you do move into worthwhile specifics. Solid job.

Matt - You have a good premise here, by focusing on your idea of real, human interactivity versus that of a game. You don't do much with it, though. You might have, for instance, picked up on your assertion that Zork lacks a screen, and then looked at some kind of PS3 game or whatever to ask yourself whether it is any more interactive. In other words, you might have ended up asserting that there are degrees of interactivity, or you might have said that it's a clear black & white (either there's another human or not), but as is you aren't exploring either idea in depth.

Max accurately brought up a number of the ways in which it falls short of answering the prompt.