To Touch: Intriguing Interactions

To Touch is an interactive piece of work, but it isn’t like most other interactive fiction pieces I’ve seen. It’s not only interesting, it’s also just plain fun to mess around with.

To Touch greets you with the picture of a hand. Mousing over the fingers reveals different sensations such as: Move, Caress, and Hit. I started with the thumb, Move, and continued from there.


In ‘Move’ you mouse over fragments to change what they say or change their position in the sentence. The two constants are Do… and when…. While Move was interesting to play around with, I enjoyed many of the other options more.

Next came caress in which you move your mouse trying to caress a noise (you’ll want headphones in, especially if you’re around company) until you receive a positive response in the form of a moan. Caress the darkness enough and it shapes itself into a woman. You can continue to caress her and see which areas elicit the most response until you move onto the next sensation.

Onto Hit. You must chase a fly around the screen so you can read the text in peace. I never noticed how harsh a mouse click could sound until I frantically clicking after a digital fly, seeing it become red with successful blows. The simulated cracking of the screen adds to the perceived violence. Moving directly from Caress to Hit exemplifies how different touch can be, even if it is only being simulated.

Spread was the most fun for me because you basically use your mouse as a volume control for a “musical painting.” By moving the cursor up or down,  you control the volume of a band playing in the background as color appears on the screen. I spent the most time on Spread just messing with the sound see by what intervals I could control the sound level. The splotches of color in the painting change size depending on volume, adding another level to the interaction in this piece. I found Spread the most calming of all five sections.

The final section I played was Blow. In this, as the name suggests, you must blow snow out of the way to reveal new lines of a poem. To get the next line, you must blow away the current one. I did this both with and without a microphone. Without using a microphone you simply push snow out of the way with your cursor. This method is certainly easier, but I feel it defeats the purpose of actually interacting with the poem. Once blow is finished you loop back around to Move.

What I liked most about Touch was the interesting forms of interactivity. We can never truly interact with digital media by touch; using a mouse as a proxy is as close as we can get.  To Touch utilizes different ways we can touch things, from gentle caresses to violent hits. Each form of touch is different and yields unique results. The added interaction of sound as a response to touch was great. I also enjoyed the act of blowing the snow away to reveal different lines of the poem – thankfully my roommate was not here to witness my blowing air at my computer for seemingly not reason.

The author claims there is also a ‘secret’ section in the menu if you “touch” the screen. I was not able to access this extra, but maybe you all can.


  4 comments for “To Touch: Intriguing Interactions

  1. scolliga
    February 2, 2014 at 4:47 pm

    I agree with how well the interactivity is put to use here. Every finger of “To Touch” provides the reader with a unique sensory experience unlike most of the other material we’ve looked at so far. My only qualm is the lack of a coherent story here. There are elements shared with each of these segments (what we use our hands for), but there doesn’t seem to be any sort of characterization or central theme. “Hands” isn’t really the focus of “move”, in which all the language is about expressions of love, nor the final segment “blow”. Perhaps I’m just misreading the intent here, but this doesn’t feel like a kind of story more than it does an entertaining flash game.

  2. bosco1213
    February 2, 2014 at 10:15 pm

    I also found this piece to be different from previous interactive fiction. If find it unique how a majority of the sensations attempt to make the player physically interact with it. However, I find it strange how Blow is associated with your hand in this piece when you actually use your mouth to blow. It is still interesting nonetheless and entertaining. Also, the secret sensation I found was called Brush and it requires you to use a webcam to show you touching your eye. This makes me wonder why Brush was chosen to be secret and hidden. It would also make more sense to me if Blow and Brush were swapped. What do you think ?

  3. sarahjoy
    February 3, 2014 at 11:57 am

    I agree with scolliga’s comment about the lack of story line, but I do think this piece does have some structure. If you interact with it from right to left, the interactions seem to develop from questions to exploration to research and finally reflection. I thought some sort of plot could be inferred (possibly revolving around a relationship), but I’m not sure if that’s pushing it. I think the piece is more of a demonstration of the process of exploring an idea or concept. Kind of like using the scientific method (question, research, hypothesis, experiment, etc.) only more lax. The question that the piece asks is one I thought really interesting. It questions what it means to connect. Obviously, there is the instance of more intimate connection through touch, but then it also offers other observations, such as our connection to other animals through shared senses, as described in the “Hit” section. And in the final section, it pondered why the only sense that is reciprocated while being carried out is touch.

    I wasn’t able to activate the secret “Brush” command, but I just made that motion (of hand to eye), and it made me think of brushing away a tear. I think there could definitely be some argument made for this piece to be about a relationship, possibly the end of one, as snow and the contemplative questions I encountered in “Blow” created a cold tone.

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