The ontology of interactivity

Document Type

Book chapter

Source Publication

Proceedings of The Philosophy of Computer Games Conference 2009

Publication Date



University of Oslo


When discussing modern entertainment, people frequently use the terms “interactive” and “noninteractive” despite the fact that there is no clear consensus on what these concepts mean. To this point, in the book Rules of Play, Salen and Zimmerman write, “Interactivity is one of those words which can mean everything and nothing at once.” (2005: 58) Despite this ambiguity, there is an apparent consensus that interactivity is essential to understanding the difference between computer games and other forms of entertainment. It is often said that computer games are different from films, literature, and other works of art precisely because computer games are interactive and these other media are not. Not only is interactivity considered to be necessary to a computer game, but games are often criticized by gaming reviewers for having long noninteractive portions such as cutscenes, suggesting that interactivity is essential for a computer game to be successful (Newman 2004). So what is interactivity?

Publisher Statement

Copyright © 2009 Jonathan Frome. Access to external full text or publisher's version may require subscription.

Additional Information

ISBN of the source publication: 8291670579

Full-text Version

Publisher’s Version



Recommended Citation

Frome, J. (2009). The ontology of interactivity. In J. R. Sageng (Ed.), Proceedings of The Philosophy of Computer Games Conference 2009. Norway: University of Oslo. Retrieved from http://gamephilosophy.org/download/philosophy_of_computer_games_conference_2009/Frome%20Jonathan%202009%20-%20The%20Ontology%20of%20Interactivity%20(1).pdf