The word "Interactive" has been applied to virtually everything, from electronic toys to sophisticated works of tech-art. But what exactly is "Interactivity"? The computer has been described as "an interactive tool". But if I pick up a hammer and feel its weight in my hand, am I not interacting with the tool?

We could argue this topic alone for hours on end without reaching any definitive conclusion. One of the problems is that the word can be applied to so many fields that it soon becomes impossible to determine whether or not we’re still talking about the same thing, or things.

Headlong into the abyss I plunge…

I have decided for the purposes of this document to consider Interactivity as it relates to a wide variety of media, and to rate, as best I can, these media in terms of their relative interactivity. I shall, for the purposes of this document, include within the definition of Interactive traits some which I actually consider more Immersive than Interactive; these have been included because I feel that there is probably a synergistic effect between the two which might go unnoticed otherwise.

Interactivity in a Medium, then, is comprised of the following five traits/factors: Immersion, Realism, Range, Response Speed, and Logical Consistency. The following system provides a means of rating these five factors on a scale of 0 to 5. Adding up a Medium’s scores in each of these five categories yields the Medium’s total "F.I.R.M." score ("Foley Interactivity Rating for Media"), a scale of 0 to 25.



CATEGORY:

RATING/CONDITION:

IMMERSION:

1 point for each sense that receives input (max 5)

REALISM
(RATED SEPARATELY FOR EACH SENSE COUNTED ABOVE):

(Immersion Score x 1) if completely realistic {ie, reasonably close to normal human sensory abilities}

(Immersion Score x 1/2) if implied/digitized/imperfect

(0) if non-existent or only implied

FLEX RANGE:

5 for Complete range {presentation capable of generating a completely unique end-state every time}

4 for Broad range {presentation possesses a large but limited number of end-states; too many to possibly learn/experience each individual one}

3 for Moderate range {presentation possesses a moderate number of end-states; not too many to learn if dedicated or systematic}

2 for Limited range {presentation possesses only a small number of end-states, range is easily learned}

1 for Binary range {presentation possesses only two end-states}

0 for No range {presentation is linear, it cannot change at all, possesses only one end-state.}

RESPONSE SPEED (for all media with a RANGE greater than 0):

5 for responses measured in microseconds

4 for responses measured in milliseconds

3 for responses measured in seconds

2 for responses measured in decaseconds

1 for responses measured in minutes

LOGICAL CONSISTENCY:

5 if completely logical on all levels; all events are explained and connected meaningfully

4 if only Central and Secondary events are explained and connected meaningfully

3 if only Central events are explained and connected meaningfully

2 if the vast majority of events are not explained or connected meaningfully

1 if logic is fragile or partial; events are so poorly explained and/or connected that projection and willful suspension of disbelief must be applied.

0 if logic is completely absent; all events are absolutely arbitrary and determined at random, without explanation nor connection.

Now that we have this rating system, let’s play with it!

Here is a table of various media along with their interactivity scores under the F.I.R.M. system. One of the things I discovered while creating this table is that recreational activities of all sorts could be mapped onto the scale and considered relatively to the media forms.

MEDIA/ACTIVITY   IMMER   REAL.   FLEX.   RESP.   LOGIC   TOTAL  

==============

 

=====

 

=====

 

=====

 

=====

 

=====

 

=====

 

Reading

 

1

 

0

 

0

 

 

 

1

 

Watching TV Cartoons

 

2

 

1

 

0

 

 

 

3

 

Watching TV Drama/Comedy

 

2

 

2

 

0

 

 

 

4

 

Viewing Movie/Play

 

2

 

2

 

0

 

 

 

4

 

Watching Sensorama

 

4

 

4

 

0

 

 

 

8

 

Being at a Rock Concert

 

2

 

2

 

1

 

1

 

5

 

11

 

Using Computer (Text)

 

1

 

0

 

4

 

3-4

 

5

 

13.5

 

Playing BattleTech

 

2

 

1.5

 

3

 

4

 

3

 

13.5

 

BBS’ing

 

1

 

0

 

4

 

3-4

 

5

 

13.5

 

Using Computer (Graphic)

 

1

 

0.5

 

4

 

3-4

 

5

 

14

 

Playing Pac-Man

 

2

 

1

 

2

 

4

 

5

 

14

 

Talking on the Phone

 

1

 

1

 

4

 

1-5

 

5

 

14.5

 

Playing Computer RPG

 

2

 

1.5

 

3

 

4

 

4

 

14.5

 

Helmet/Glove VR

 

3

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

5

 

17

 

Talking Face-to-Face

 

4

 

4

 

4

 

1-5

 

5

 

20.5

 

Walking Around in the World

 

5

 

5

 

4

 

1-5

 

5

 

22.5

 

Direct Neural Interface

 

5

 

5

 

5

 

5

 

5

 

25

 

"This is the world now: Move a fin and the world turns. Sit in a chair and pictures change."
– Genesis P-Orridge

You may also like