Below you fill find a brief excerpt from Transparency in Interactive Entertainment. For the full document, please open or download the PDF.
From p. 14:
“Pick a card,” the magician said. “Any card.” A simple solicitation, which is at one and the same time a moment of pure freedom of choice from the point of view of the member of the audience, and a moment of meaningless choice from the point of view of the magician. No matter which card is chosen, the result has been completely predetermined by the magician and merely revealed to the audience member.
As a result of the force of the transparent techniques the magician has employed, the assistant from the audience has almost no choice but to believe that they have materially participated in the illusion. That feeling – the internal conviction of participatory involvement – supports the illusion inside the assistant’s head in ways that the magician cannot dictate but can prepare for. This is imaginative involvement at its peak: the audience member’s own imagination is enlisted to help convince the audience member that they have materially participated in something which they did not participate in.
At this point, the line in interactive entertainment between magicianship and genuinely determinative interactivity may indeed blur into nothingness from the point of view of the player. In fact, that’s the goal. But while creating the appearance of interactivity may be a godsend in terms of technique, a danger exists that the line between real interactivity and magicianship may become obscured for the designer as well.
Designers with no conscious awareness of technique have no reliable way to execute, or even harness, their own imaginative concepts. As a result, they risk becoming swayed by their own erroneous imaginative beliefs about what they are doing and the medium they’re doing it in. Because there is, by definition, no real interactivity in stage magic, the magician is immune from any similar sort of seduction, unless they are willing to cross the line and actually believe in magical powers. The interactive designer, however, really does have access to magic: where magic is the ability of a machine to reveal unscripted outcomes that have been determined by player choice.