The Flow Principle in Interactivity

by Andy Polaine on January 23, 2006

The Proceedings of the second Australasian conference on Interactive entertainment 2005, Sydney, Australia November 23 – 25, 2005 have been released online.

The abstract of my paper The Flow Principle in Interactivity is here:

This paper argues that true interactivity is a feedback loop of action-reaction-interaction and involves collaboration or exchange (with real or computer agents). Central to this argument is physical interactivity as a defining feature of new media in addition to the psychological interaction with a work as Lev Manovich [27] describes. It is also argued that interactivity will always remain opposed to traditional narrative forms, but that a similar engagement and willing suspension of disbelief are equally important within interactive works if explored on interactivity’s own terms, especially through an understanding of play.The psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi [12, 13] has written extensively on the intrinsic pleasures of creative action and argues that activities can be rewarding in and of themselves, regardless of any goals or outcomes. Csikszentmihalyi describes this theory of the autotelic experience as the flow principle and it relates directly to the engagement with interactive experiences. Case studies are cited in which the flow principle can be applied to interactivity and shows that engagement may begin and end with playful experiences that are satisfying in their own right.

You can find the full paper at the ACM archive here (free registration required) or contact me for a full copy of the PDF.

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