Are you used to a certain uneasiness, anxiety or stress?

No matter how intense a state of feeling can be, we can normalize it in such a way that becomes our system of functioning. It feels “normal”. We carry our feelings wherever we go simply because we can’t get rid of them (except if you are trained to). Even though if we are asked how do we feel, the answer is not obvious.

While testing Lost Prince we were experiencing the fear to play when people found out they had to touch each other. The main mechanic is to touch a blindfolded player to see if she can recognize who is who. Depending on the role, the action can be to touch the head as if making circles, the shoulders as in giving a massage or to strecht finger by finger.

We approached a group of youngsters, that seemed very formal, at a game night in Antwerp. They had just entered, chosen a table and still had to look for a game. When we described Lost Prince they were doubtful. They said it sounded as if it was going to violate their personal space. At the same time, they were thrilled about the cards and the roles in them. We anticipated it seemed too sensual to them, so we decided to put aside the most daring cards. After discarding they agreed to give it a try, but they still looked defensiveness. One of us played the master and the other made notes and took some pictures. After a few minutes, we could observe that they were having fun. They played all the rules correctly and the two rounds went quickly. At the end they were relieved. Six out of seven expressed that it felt much better than expected and showed sympathy towards the game. Only one stayed with the idea it was too invasive.

The same happened with the other play-tests in the Netherlands and in Belgium. Some were fearful and sceptical, but after playing they were positively impressed. Surprisingly, our three essays in Spain showed that the mechanics of the game didn’t cause the fearful/ uneasy effect. Just an example: a school group of fifteen children, ages nine to twelve. They were more thrilled than afraid to play, but still, some showed strong scepticism (“I don’t like games”, “I don’t feel like playing”). After ninety minutes playing (they didn’t want to stop) they were all smooth, even the scepticals. When these were asked how they felt, one said it was fun and the other wanted to know how did we come up with this idea.

We knew we were “touching” sensitive areas of the self. The game was giving evidence that when it comes to interact with each other by means of touch culture is conditioning us. However, players always softened down and felt pleased. The body awareness, the fears of doing something unexpected and the social constraints were being shaken. A better atmosphere built up with smiles regardless of how we started, of how people felt, of the different approaches to touch.

My! Can we deduce that people feel better through touch? For a number of our players perceiving another person through contact opened up their mood helping to modify the feelings they were carrying. As showed by research on the methods of perception, touch is more important than we imagine:

We tested 52, healthy adults and found that slow-velocity touch was perceived as more pleasant, and produced higher levels of subjective embodiment during the RHI, compared with fast touch. Moreover, this effect applied irrespective of whether the seen hand was a rubber or real hand. These findings suggest that slow-velocity, affective touch can have a fundamental role in our sense of body ownership, and highlight the central role of emotional-related, interoceptive signals in self-consciousness.” FOTOPOULOU, Katerina; JENKINSON, PAUL. Affective Touch by Others Determines how we Perceive our Own Body.

http://www.bodyinmind.org/touch-and-how-we-perceive-our-body/ 10/09/17

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