A North Central College interactive media student working on a project.

What is Interactive Media?

Reviewed by Jacob Imm

Aug 13, 2021

What Is Interactive Media?

The field of media and communications has grown exponentially over the past few years. With emerging technologies and trends in social media affecting the way we communicate, it comes as no surprise that the idea of media is becoming much more tangible than it once was.

So, what is media studies and how does interactive media fit into this equation? 

Interactive media is a broad term that covers a variety of art forms and career paths. Despite some overlap with graphic design and computer science, interactive media is a unique field with plenty to offer for prospective students.

If you’re interested in learning more about this exciting career path, read on for everything you need to know about interactive media.

Interactive Media Overview

If you’re reading this article, you probably have one question in mind: “What is interactive media?” The short answer: A lot of things! 

Interactive media is the name given to any method of communication that depends on a user’s (or multiple users’) input. This information can be transmitted a number of ways, from a streaming menu to a digital art installation. 

Basically, any form of media that responds to a user’s actions will fall under the broad and innovative umbrella of interactive media.

Degrees in Interactive Media

There are many different degree paths students can pursue for a career in interactive media.

While some students are captivated by specific elements of interactive media—such as game design, digital art or software development—others prefer to study the field through a wider lens, by focusing on interactive media as a whole. 

A thorough interactive media program, like the one at North Central College, will cover a variety of relevant subjects within this field. Core courses for an interactive media degree may include:

  • Web Design
  • Global Media in a Digital Age
  • Digital Media Writing
  • Video Production
  • Introduction to Digital Audio
  • Photography
  • Motion Graphics

Careers in Interactive Media

As previously stated, interactive media is made up of many different branches. Those who complete their degree in this field may go on to work in a myriad of different career paths. Below are some of the most common careers in interactive media:

Virtual Reality Design

While the concept of virtual reality has existed for decades, the interactive media design and technology it requires has only become accessible in the past few years. Interactive media graduates may go on to advance this modern form of communication through the development of:

  • Virtual reality video games
  • Virtual reality films and television
  • Virtual reality headsets and other equipment 
  • Compatible virtual reality software
  • Virtual reality digital art

Find out more about North Central College

Mobile Apps

Mobile applications are perhaps the most common form of interactive media in 2021. The interface, actions and purpose of mobile apps heavily relies on this unique type of technology.

Interactive media graduates may go on to invent or improve the following elements of mobile applications:

  • New mobile app development
  • Mobile application debugging
  • Updating the mobile apps we use today
  • Redesigning mobile app interfaces and functions

Websites

Popular and commonly used for more than three decades, websites are some of the most established and reliable forms of interactive media currently available. Every clickable aspect of a website's interface relies on the principles of interactive design and technology. Graduates of an interactive media program may go on to work in web and user interface design, with job titles such as:

  • Interactive Media Designer 
  • Web designer
  • Software engineer
  • Web analyst
  • Front end developer
  • UI (User Interface) or UX (User Experience) designer
  • Content strategist

Video Games

Video games are some of the best examples of technological complexity and creative potential among the interactive media. Every element of a video game, from story structure to controls, relies on an aspect of interactive media. Graduates from an interactive media program may go on to perform the following jobs:

  • Designing video game art
  • Programming or improving the technological aspects of video games
  • Developing stories for video games

Video Production

Many people don’t realize that movies and TV are often a form of interactive media, as well. For example, streaming services like Netflix and Hulu rely on interactive technology for features such as:

  • Browsing content
  • Fast-forwarding
  • Skipping credits sequences
  • Developing an algorithm for what to watch

Some franchises, like the Netflix hit-series “Black Mirror,” have even developed interactive storylines where the viewer decides what happens next. These innovations would not be possible without the help of professionals trained in interactive media.

Start Your Career in Interactive Media 

The first step toward a successful career in interactive media? Earning the right degree.

Interactive media graduates will gain the valuable technical, artistic and programming skills needed to pursue a career in this field. Students should look for a comprehensive interactive media program like the one at North Central College. 

At North Central, interactive media students will study a wide scope of technology and design skills, learn how to use industry-standard software, and gain hands-on practice for their portfolios and resumes. Start your career on the right foot, and request more information about the interactive media program at North Central College today!

 

Sources:

Dhir, R. (2021, February 23). Interactive Media. Investopedia. 

https://www.investopedia.com/terms/i/interactive-media.asp 

North Central College. (2019). Interactive Media Studies Chicago, IL

https://www.northcentralcollege.edu/program/interactive-media-studies 

Spacey, J. (2017, September 7). 12 Types of Interactive Media. Simplicable. 

https://simplicable.com/new/interactive-media