Manifestation of Touch is an art house fmv game exploring the human sense of touch and longing.

Brianna Shuttleworth + Yuqi Zhu

Manifestation of Touch is an art house looking sim about invoking a sense of empathy as participants interact with a series of short videos on a tablet or phone device. The game has a disjointed narrative about two characters struggling in a world where human touch is no longer possible. The gameplay exists as a meditative play where you simply guide your finger around the screen moving to items that attract your attention. 

Frequently, games focus on how they provide feedback to the player, how they show that the player has agency over the world created by the designer. While in our case the player still has agency that they are directly impacting the video clips they see, however we want them to be able to let go while interacting with Manifestation of Touch, to feel subconsciously drawn into specific moments. 

Initially, inspired by the camera’s role within film, we first looked and researched how we felt the camera was being treated differently within games. Then as we set out for our initial filming we relied on street shooting and performance. Content wise our goal became finding this moment of awe that we kept seeing over and over again within performance and video art.  We experienced a physical body reaction to watching Bill Viola’s Fire Woman or Pina Bausch’s Cafe Muller. To best describe in words it felt a mixture of spiritual and a transcending intimacy.  

From this project we developed a deeper understanding of both games and film. We believe that the creative practice we did throughout the year was surprisingly interdisciplinary. We no longer viewed games and film as their separate components with boundaries to each other. Our design intuition started feeling how these disciplines could affect each other in a way that would create a new approach on how we design moving forward. 

We thank everyone at the NYU Game center for their love and support through our time working on Manifestation of Touch