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This article will explore interactivity as it applies to online web series and ARGs. For a description of the broader use of the term interactivity see the Wikipedia article [1].


According to the dictionary interactive is defined as:

  • 1 : mutually or reciprocally active
  • 2 : of, relating to, or being a two-way electronic communication system (as a telephone, cable television, or a computer) that involves a user's orders (as for information or merchandise) or responses (as to a poll)

- in•ter•ac•tive•ly adverb

Types of interactivity

There are 3 basic levels of interactivity that can take place in any web series/ARG:

1. Interaction between viewers/players and the story itself. An example of this would be the fan decision as to whether or not Bree/Daniel should go to Jonas's house.

Within this category there are three basic levels of interactivity:

a) The outcome of the interactivity is essentially pre-determined and the goal is to create the illusion of participation. This is commonly called "on rails" [2] or "interfaketivity".
b) There are "multiple paths built" into the story/ARG and the outcome is genuinely dependent on the views/players participation. This is the typical design used in DVD games and ARGs.
c) The interactivity is "dynamic". The story may have been laid out with multiple paths similar to (b) but there is a capacity to take it in an entirely new and unexpected direction as needed. One of best examples of this was the Drop 6 (Petaluma Revisited). [3].

2. Interaction between viewers/players and the characters that does not have any significant impact on the story. An example of this would be the "battle rap" series of videos surrounding the Maddison Atkins story.

3. Interactions between the viewers/players that have a tangential relationship to the web series/ARG but do not specifically affect the story or characters. An example of this would be the creation of the concept of Lonelypirates15 by fans on Lonelygirl15 comments.

Interactive Tools

Live chat

A number of chat platforms have been used for live chat. These include Userplane, IRC, NowLive and a custom software chat implemented by LG15. The main problem with live chat is one of scalability. IRC chat proved extremely effective in Chapter 1 of Maddison Atkins. The small number of players allowed for an intimate atmosphere and very personal one-on-one interaction. In a recent LG15 chat on IRC the larger number of participants who were not so familiar with IRC protocol led to the non character participants being "devoiced" and this would appear to contradict the idea of interactivity. In essence the chat was reduced to an evolution of the narrative by a discussion between the characters.


The topic of whether or not "comments" can be used for live chat or not has been hotly debated on LG15. The controversy stem stems from the fact that some of the discussion on comments is "out of game". Some feel that such "out of game" comments prohibit the use of comments for character interaction while others feel it would be pretty easy to distinguish between character interaction from other comments as is normally done in IRC chat.


In an attempt to separate in character discussions from other discussion LG15 has set up a special area [4] within their forums.

Social Networking sites

Bebo and MySpace have both been used for in-character interactions. In the case of KateModern, all of the in-character interactions that have not involved live events have taken place on Bebo. Each character is treated as a "real person" and has their own Bebo identity which allows them to interact with other Bebo users.


ARGs typically involve a high degree of cooperative action on the part of the players of the ARG. By working together to solve complex "drops" ARGs typically lead to a high degree of social bonding between players. The role of characters in solving puzzles varies greatly between ARGs and it can often be controversial because some players would prefer to solve the "drop" without assistance from the puppet master via in character interaction.


Puzzles have a similarity to ARGs in that they sometimes involve a level of interactivity in order to solve them. However, because they are often easier to solve, they tend to lead to less social bonding.

Live Event



External Links