Please, don’t touch me!

Beat Suter and René Bauer

Do not bully the avatar! If you do, you trigger emotional restlessness for the AI. How would you feel as a serf? This artgame is about the player's absolute control over the avatar.

Please, Don't Touch Me! makes the dilemma of bullying in social media and in video games immediately perceptible. The user harasses the avatar with every touch (of his cursor) and triggers emotional restlessness that cannot be avoided.

Like the analog world, the digital world ultimately is about control. At some point, the annoyed AI has enough and commits suicide – and thus becomes a submissive game ball. A serf for your enjoyment is born.

Please, Don't Touch Me! is an artgame that has been created in 2019 by the Zurich artist group AND-OR, by René Bauer and Beat Suter. Concept and first prototype were already made in 2012. It works with integrated audio for the game avatar (generated) and the human in charge (spoken).

Most texts are quoted statements or fragments from well-known adventure games. The artgame makes obvious that the player exerts absolute control over the avatar like a dictator.

To the player, the game avatar is a serf for his own enjoyment. Thus game avatars and AIs get mistreated all the time. It is a never ending loop. And you are part of it, even if you don't want to.

About the Artist

René Bauer and Beat Suter

and-or is an artgroup specializing in media art and gameArt. The group consists of René Bauer, Beat Suter and Mirjam Weder. The group operates since 2001 from Zurich, Switzerland. René Bauer and Beat Suter work as professors for game design at the University of the Arts Zurich, Switzerland.

AND-OR explores new forms of interactivity and creativity between machines and their human users. Simple but independent concepts are turned into game prototypes or playful language and media art. Digital data are everywhere today, but their effects are often not taken into account. AND-OR's principle is to make this data and its effects visible to everyone, to question them and thus open up a discourse across digital boundaries. For this purpose we use (linguistic) feeds of ideas and thoughts (digital ready-mades) as they can be found in search engines - feeds of publicly available images and sounds and real-time data of gameplay behavior patterns. In a playful and simple way, these streams are able to show what is going on under the digital surface and go beyond the usual boundaries of communication. In the process, a development towards ever greater abstraction and extreme transposition of the invisible data can be observed in the works, which goes hand in hand with the increasing and less manageable information flows of our time.

"DadaOverload" (2016) dismantles and destroys texts and communication. The source material for Dada in the present is tweets and spam messages, advertising messages and any kind of short messages. With "DadaOverload" the Dada-information flow is destroyed by shooting out single letters. Poetic language fragments are created, which in turn can be shot back into the digital communication flow and further influence it.

"Don't Touch Me!" (2019) makes the bullying dilemma of social media immediate and immediately perceptible, as the user harasses the avatar with every movement and triggers an emotional uneasiness that cannot be avoided. Like the analogue, the digital is ultimately about control, and thus the AI gets quickly annoyed and consequently commits suicide and thus becomes a will-less plaything. And with this a new avatar and serf for your enjoyment is born.