Interactivity and Empathy

Telling a story using text and images can be an effective method of relaying information, but an even more effective way is using interactive content.  Interactive content not only helps the audience remember more information, but it also has more potential to arouse emotions and empathy (ability to understand what other people are feeling and respond accordingly) in users.  Interactive content is far more useful in provoking emotion and inciting action because users can vicariously experience the topic through interaction with the material, as opposed to simply reading the material.

A great example of interactive interaction is a project done by McKinney (a marketing firm in Raleigh, NC) called SPENT.  SPENT is a game that raises awareness of people living in extreme poverty.  Instead of just text and images, this game prompts users to make decisions as though they are living in extreme poverty levels. I remembered more statistics and information than I have ever remembered from just reading articles about poverty.  Having to make decisions such as watching my child perform in a school play or taking a side job that would pay for past due expenses provoked a feeling of sorrow. This game not only gives you the information but it provides you with an entire experience that allows you to understand on a deeper level the problem of poverty.


Another great example of Interactive project is Budget Hero.  This game allows users to  learn more about tax dollars and the federal budget, but in a fun way.  For the average person, reading information about tax dollars and spending can be very arduous and boring.  It is also a topic that incites a lot of emotion for people who follow it carefully.  However, for people like me who are not familiar with the debate of tax dollars and spending, this game is very informative.  By making a topic interactive the boring and uninteresting becomes informative and entertaining.

Budget Hero Game

The underlying theme in these projects is creating an experience that allows users to connect on a deeper level with the information.  This actually falls in line with what I decided to do for my capstone project, an interactive presentation on the Mayan culture.   A lot of people have heard about the Doomsday 2012 theory but many don’t know about the culture behind the myth and their practices.  Therefore I wanted to offer a fun and interactive way for people to learn about the interesting Mesoamerican people.  When people can interact and take part in their learning, they are more likely to remember the information presented to them, and if the topic calls for it, they can use the emotional experience from the project to relate and react.


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