More interactivity does not = more enjoyment.

Somehow the two have been conflated over the past few years, as if every TV viewer, radio listener, newspaper reader and games player had been barely able to contain their enthusiasm to ‘interact’ in some way with the content they were consuming – and as if, thanks to new technologies, that latent desire can finally burst forth and flourish to create a brave new world of ‘better’ media products.

As Espen Aareth put it, interactivity has come to imply that

the role of the consumer [has] (or very soon [will]) change for the better

This idea has gained traction both in industry and in academia.

But it is nonsense.

The role of the creator/producer/manager is to ensure that interactivity is channeled by the product and integrated into it in such a way that the whole becomes stronger.

American Idol is not a hyper-democratic free-for-all because the show would be terrible if the audience voted not only for the winners, but also for the presenters, the judges, the cameramen, the director, and the production team.

The best interactivity is actually structured and limited. Radical democracy does not great products make. Even Wikipedia (winner of Democratic Content Creation Idol ten years in a row) depends on a small army of admins and editors.

More interactivity does not = more enjoyment.


Aareth, E.J. (1997), Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press), p.48, quoted by Glas, R. (2013), Breaking Reality: Exploring Pervasive Cheating in Foursquare, Transactions of the Digital Games Research Association 1:1, p.2-3

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