Update: I spoke to Do Not Touch co-creator Jonathan Puckey of Studio Moniker to gain a little insight into this experimental project. It went something like this:
Eurogamer: What inspired the idea?
Puckey: The inspiration comes from many places. One of them was a video game recording we saw many years ago of a game of Nemesis, where recordings of the same level were overlaid over each other. As the recording went on, more and more failures occurred until finally one ship made it till the end.
Eurogamer: Were you surprised by any of the reactions to it? Like how long it took before people obscured the nudity, for example?
Puckey: We put the nudity in there both as an experiment and as an exercise in censorship, without knowing exactly what would happen. At least 80 per cent of the people do indeed, not touch the model. That is really sweet. Within an hour of the project going live, most of the nudity had been censored.
Eurogamer: How long did it take to put the project together?
Puckey: We have been working on the idea on and off for a year now. We first did a user test using stock footage, to see if this odd idea had the potential to come to something. We learned quite a few lessons from that, like the need for a large cursor. The actual production happened during one month with a team of two.
Eurogamer: Can you track each cursor for data analysis? As in, can you see how many of the nudity-obscuring cursors identified as male or female in the beginning?
Puckey: Yes, you could analyze the data in any way you want. We have been talking to each other about the possibility of releasing the cursor data as an open source project, in order to allow access to anyone wanting to show new patterns in the data.
Eurogamer: Was there a specific purpose to the experiment? There weren't many identifying questions early on besides gender, so was it more about trying to survey the differences between men and women on a grander scale?
Puckey: We didn't set out to point anything out specifically. We just felt interesting things would happen if we overlaid thousands of recordings of people answering the same questions. Remember that we are only politely asking people to follow our instructions, they are free to do whatever they want. We design this environment and then invite behavior to happen within it. We enjoy the people who do not answer our questions as much as those who do. For example, one fantastic detail is the people placing their cursors on the 'or' when we ask them to pick between men and women. Sometimes making things black and white brings out the grey even more.
Eurogamer: Have you had as many people as you thought participate in it? More? Less?
Puckey: We can't say we expected a million people to do this in two days time. That was surprising. But with web projects like this you always need to plan for success, because success can be a killer for your servers.
Eurogamer: Is Do Not Touch a permanent instillation, or a temporary one? If the latter, how long will it be up?
Puckey: Luckily we were able to keep hosting costs down to a minimum, so we should be able to keep it up for at least a year, if not more.
Original story: Remember The Stanley Parable? The wonderful Half-Life 2 mod tasked players with following along to an omniscient narrator - or possibly stubbornly refusing to, creating increasingly hilarious, twisted fourth-wall breaking variations on a tale.
Amsterdam-based prog-rock band Light Light have joined forces with also Amsterdam-based design studio Moniker to create a fascinating sociological experiment playing off the same themes of obedience, curiosity and a desire for mischief in an interactive music video entitled Do Not Touch. The video asks players to follow directions with their cursors - or not, depending on the participant's inclination.
The catch? Each person's cursor is recorded, then played back for future viewers. Thus, the longer the video is in circulation, the more cursors it will show signifying how other people behaved.
Set to the theme of Light Light's Kilo, players are asked to perform such tasks as drawing a smiley face, creating an opponent for a boxer, or not touching a naked female model. Of course, people are free to do as they choose and at the time of writing this, there were already enough players that wanted to censor the nudity that it's been omitted completely (if only just). It's endlessly fascinating to see how many viewers do what at any given time, plus the song is pretty catchy, too.
Now go see how you stack up to the rest of the audience in Do Not Touch.