Enacted experiences require participant-situated cause and effect

To create an Enacted experience, there must be a visceral connection between participants’ actions and the subsequent experience. This connection doesn’t require true agency. It’s only important that participants intuitively feel that their actions bring about some significant part of the experience—at least so long as they don’t think about it too carefully.

Most games sustain this feeling throughout most of the experience. It’s often fine if the experience is punctuated by cutscenes which the player doesn’t control. So long as the player feels they caused the events before and after the cutscene, it’ll be integrated (to some extent) into the broader feeling of causation.

This requirement is one key reason why intelligent tutoring systems rarely create enacted experiences. An ITS might be a Participatory environment, but the cause-and-effect reaction is situated in the system, not with the student. The student’s perception is that they’re being fed an endless stream of tasks by an automaton. They have some dim notion that their responses to these tasks dictate which tasks come next, but the causation happens inside the black box of the system, not as part of a mechanism they enact.

Likewise, textbooks’ questions and activities can incite enacted experiences if readers carry them out, but viscerally, the experience usually feels like “doing what the author says.” I think that’s due to the significant separation between the authored context (a book) and the enaction environment (a laboratory experiment, a business, etc).

Relatedly, though not identically: Enacted experiences require blocking on participant action.

Last updated 2023-07-13.