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.