I’ll explain my argument in a second. First, try out these links.
Try out the The Big Red Button
Then play a little 1D Tetris
And if you have the time (and a PC), enjoy a little Progress Quest
Now, tell me why interactivity matters.
My point is pretty clear here. Each of these games/interactive exercises involves little or no meaningful interaction. You just click at a button or key. If anything makes you keep clicking, it’s this vague sense that a story is unfolding.
So is this some form of proto interactive narrative? Probably not, plenty of theorists have worked to show that interactive literature requires more than a trivial amount of interaction on the part of the reader. Otherwise, all books are interactive because you turn the pages to “make them go.”
Or, maybe we can say that these little tidbits are not interactive.
But that’s unsatisfying. They feel interactive. Tetris 1D doesn’t even require interaction and still seems like a game. The Big Red Button isn’t much more interact than the light in that comes on when you open the fridge door. But we keep on clicking.
The only satisfactory explanation I have come to so far is that interaction does not matter nearly as much as people like to say. Or, at least, simple interaction is as powerful as more sophisticated interaction. The very fact of interacting holds all the magic of interaction. Making games, for example, “more interactive” is like adding sugar to syrup. Whatever makes World of Warcraft seem like more than of game than Progress Quest must have to do with other things other than interactivity.