The distinction between user engagement and interaction is based on the two differ-ent modes of cognitive work users engage in when using transmedia narratives (Finnemann, 1999):
- Reading mode – viewing and processing the content of the narrative (user en-gagement)
- Navigation mode – processing cues needed to physically navigate the narrative (interaction)
The level of user engagement can be determined by determining how users interact with the transmedia narrative. There are five levels of engagement:
- Attention – This is the lowest level of user engagement. The user reads or watches content from the transmedia narrative but takes no further action and has not made a commitment to continued engagement with it.
- Evaluation – The user’s level of engagement has increased and there is a defi-nite interest in the transmedia narrative. The user is deciding whether to make a commitment to continue engaging with the transmedia narrative, including using resources (e.g. time, money, effort) to further that engagement.
- Affection – The user has made a commitment to spend time, money, effort, and other resources to continue engaging with the transmedia narrative. En-gagement includes commenting, writing reviews, joining a community (but maybe only lurking), and posting Facebook and other “likes”.
- Advocacy – The user’s commitment to the transmedia narrative goes beyond individual participation. The user encourages others to engage with the narra-tive through online forwards of information, embedding content, and in satis-faction polls and questionnaires.
- Contribution – This is the highest level of engagement by a user. The user’s engagement includes making contributions to the narrative’s fan forums, events, and other activities or adding to the narrative’s storyworld through re-mixes, collaborations, or creation of entirely new stories.
Some of your audience will engage with all of the elements across media, contribute to it, and advocate it. There is a common rule in interactive projects, and the same applies to transmedia projects: the smallest percentage of your audience/players are the most active (and often skilled); the middle percentage engage with less content but are nevertheless a larger audience size; while the largest audience size engages with the least amount of content (in the trans-media context this sometimes translates to one medium or artform only), and is often passive. Where possible and appropriate, design for these different levels of engagement and create opportunities for your audience/players to move between them. (Dena, The Process of Creating Quality Transmedia Experiences, 2011)