Can narrative films go interactive?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


New interactive media works based upon audio-visual material often result in distraction rather than sustained engagement. Contrary to postmodern textual and cognitive presumptions, this study uses dual coding theory, cognitive load theory, and constructivist narrative film theory, to claim that distraction results from cognitive and behavioural multi-tasking which lead to split attention problems that cannot be cognitively handled. Focus is upon split attention resulting from the non-critical use of split screens, from decentred, non-cohering audio-visual and multi-narrative formations, and from interaction. The analysis of several new media works, existing tools and models, particularly those pertaining to narrative-oriented 'interactive films', instantiates these claims. For narrative interactive audio-visual texts to sustain deep, wide-ranged engagement, multi-tasking split attention problems inhering in computer-based works have to be managed, and - most importantly - made to enhance rather than reduce engagement. This article outlines some major problems and offers viable solutions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-162
Number of pages14
JournalNew Cinemas
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2004


  • Interactive multimedia
  • Computer software
  • Audiovisual materials
  • Data compression (Telecommunication)
  • Motion pictures
  • Coding theory
  • cognitive load theory
  • constructivist narrative theory
  • critique of postmodernism
  • dual coding theory
  • interactive cinema
  • split attention


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