What is interactivity?

Journal of Aesthetic Education 43 (4):pp. 53-73 (2009)
I argue that the term "interactive" should be considered a general-purpose term that indicates something about whatever it is applied to, whether that is art, artifact, or nature. I base my definition in the notion of "interacting with" something. First, I look for essential features of this relation, and then using these features, I develop a notion of interactivity that can help distinguish the interactive from non-interactive arts. Although I am skeptical of the benefits interactivity affords, interactive artworks are significant in that they are the first instances of mass art to be truly "concreative." Prior to building a definition of interactivity, I provide a novel reading of Collingwood in order to revive his notion of "concreativity" for contemporary application. In order to develop my theory of interactivity as mutual responsiveness, I analyze four problematic definitions of interactivity: (1) the control theory, (2) the making use theory, (3) the input/output theory, (4) Dominic McIver Lopes' modifiable structure theory, and (5) Janet Murray's procedural/participatory theory. In each case, I reveal a problem that my final notion solves. After presenting a definition of interactivity, I defend the viability of my theory against skeptical remarks that interactivity is a useless concept. To highlight the significance of my analysis, I analyze an argument against the value of concreative art—that interactivity is incompatible with narrative immersion.
Keywords interactivity  video games  videogames  concreative
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DOI 10.1353/jae.0.0062
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Robert Francis John Seddon (2013). Getting 'Virtual' Wrongs Right. Ethics and Information Technology 15 (1):1-11.
Dominic Preston (2014). Some Ontology of Interactive Art. Philosophy and Technology 27 (2):267-278.
Grant Tavinor (2010). Videogames and Aesthetics. Philosophy Compass 5 (8):624-634.

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