Inputs and Outputs: Engagement in digital media from the maker's perspective
In the process of developing a technology assembly that can objectively measure engagement on a moment-by-moment basis, subjective responses to stimuli must be shown to correlate with the component technologies, such as motion capture or psychophysiology. Subjective scales for engagement are not all consistent in segregating the measurement of causes (inputs to the audience) and effects (outputs from the audience); this lack of separation can obscure appropriate inferences in the relationship between cause and effect. Inputs to the audience are scripted, and are controllable by the maker. An output is what the designed experience engenders in the end-user, and outputs can include both mental states (satisfaction) and physical activities (heart rate) during the stimulus and subsequently. Inputs can be maximised by design, whereas to optimise outputs from the end-user, one needs an empirical process because outputs are dependent upon an interpretive process or entry into a biological system. Outputs will be highly dependent on audience and context, and they will often be quite variable, even in individuals from a similar audience profile. It is critical that, in instruments assessing the relationship between inputs and outputs, controllable inputs to the end-user must not be conflated with outputs engendered in the end-user.