Authored by: Lori Landay

The Routledge Companion to Video Game Studies

Print publication date:  December  2013
Online publication date:  January  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415533324
eBook ISBN: 9780203114261
Adobe ISBN: 9781136290510


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Interactivity is the potential for, or phenomenon of, interaction; interactivity can be a property of an artifact, a perception, or an experience. Interaction is an action that occurs as two or more participants exchange information (people, artifacts, materials, or machines) that has a reciprocal effect on each other. As human experience, interaction can involve the entire body and all the senses and emotions. The most common example of interaction is a conversation between two people, in which each responds to the other in repeated exchanges, taking into account the information in the previous communications. Interactivity in video games or other forms of new media (for example, websites, interactive digital art, or learning interfaces) most often refers to communication between a human and a computer. The person controls a computer system to do something that is meaningful to them; the system changes because of, and responds to, the user’s input as one of the participants in the interaction, and there is a loop of information exchanged. The person may perceive that they are interacting with the computer system in a reciprocal way as if they were participating in a conversation. The interactivity of an artifact such as a video game has come to mean part of the user experience, and is closely related to the concept of gameplay in that interactivity encompasses what a player does to engage in the reciprocal-feeling activity with the system.

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