How Much Interactivity Do We Really Need?

When I ask people about cinema, technology, or Internet TV, I hear a lot of references to the possibilities of viewers’ interactivity. I’ve met creators and tech enthusiasts who told me with sparkling eyes that now they can truly interact with their viewers. They can even let viewers decide what will happen next!

Well, open and honest, I don’t want to affect the plot. Not at all.

I watch TV, films, and Internet TV in order to be entertained. I want someone to create a world for me – a believable world that I can relate to. I have no problem with different ways that creators increase my involvement with what I see on screen. Great soundtrack, as well as less conservative methods to create a world, are fine by me.

But, please, don’t ask me to decide what the character will do next. Don’t ask me to decide if it will turn right or left. Not only it doesn’t increase my involvement, it reduces my suspension of disbelief.

Having said that, there are many ways that technology can make me live the story I see on the screen. Check out Lance Weiler work in this field – fascinating and innovative ideas come to life in his creation, surrounding viewers with multi-layered experience.

Letting me decide how the plot will evolve is feasible. I just don’t believe it is needed.

How do YOU feel about the idea of viewers’ controlled plot?

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6 Responses to “How Much Interactivity Do We Really Need?”

  1. 1 oren zuckerman July 23, 2007 at 10:53 am

    great topic. As we know there are many ppl out there with different preferences, so choice and diversity of options are good for innovation. Personally, I think that story telling is the core, and the interactive experience should amplify it, not “outsource” it to the user. There are many ways to do it, one is transmedia storytelling that is carefully planned by writers/producers – the Matrix is a classic example. There are other ways to increase engagement and participation, controlling the plot is a tricky one. A well-planned video game can do it in the right way, while a remote-controlled TV show will probably not result in a great experience.
    Looking forward to read other’s comments.

  2. 2 oren zuckerman July 23, 2007 at 11:10 am

    I checked out Lance Weiler, great work (BTW Kfir the link is broken).

    Has anybody seen his latest “cinematic ARG”:

    “Recently, Lance has created a new “Head Trauma” event called a cinema ARG (alternate realty game) that allows audience members to experience a new form of storytelling. The cinematic ARG is a mashup of movies, music, theatrics and gaming. It is currently touring the US and Europe.”

  3. 3 Annika Lidne July 23, 2007 at 11:17 am

    You’re absolutely right, Kfir. If peoplw want interactivity they play games. I’ve seen a few attempts at interactive drama and they have bombed. You want to see a well-told story and relax. The world is full of choices everywhere else.

  4. 4 Kfir Pravda July 23, 2007 at 11:31 am

    Oren, thanks for your comment. I’ve fixed the link and added another one to his ARG project. I am in discussions with Lance – maybe we can convince him to do an ARG in Israel, together with IDC?
    Annika – I am with you on this one

    The only thing that bothers me (and I will publish a post about it tomorrow) is the question whether there is a new kind of story telling in the internet – just like a poem is different from a novel, a novel is different from a play, a play is different from a TV show, and TV show is different from a movie.

  5. 5 oren zuckerman July 23, 2007 at 12:24 pm

    Here is one definition of this new kind of storytelling by Henry Jenkins:

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