Slice is a breakthrough game that uses touch input in a new way. It is a game of skill coupled with a surprising negative feedback - you get it wrong and you get cut, virtually of course!
Virtual reality is a difficult thing to get hold of. When it works, an immersive virtual environment can suddenly become real - when it fails you just get a headache. Sometimes however you can be surprised when a design goes way beyond what you could have guessed and a game takes on a vivid reality - so it is with Slice.
Slice is an iPad game by Twitch Games, but it basically just makes use of touch input in a way that moves the game into a different league. This is how touch input should be used in games! The idea is that the player has to move sharp blades that have been put together in a virtual mechanism to uncover a button that has to be pressed. The novel part of the game is that if you get it wrong then you receive a virtual cut and virtual blood flows.
As the website says:
"There is danger lurking in your iPhone and iPad. A place where you are being tested. But tested for what? and by whom?
Slice takes you where no iPad or iPhone game has taken you before; to the limit of your dexterity and your tolerance of pain"
A great idea but what you might not guess until you have played the game is the degree of real pain the app can instill in its players. The effect is related but not identical to the "Rubber hand illusion" and other multi-modal illusions - see Multimodal integration.
The effect is due to the way our senses integrate, in this case vision and touch. If you can create a link between what you see and what you feel by a realistic interaction with the virtual blades then the effect has a "run-on" when your visual senses tell you that you have just been cut. In practice the effect is short lived and dies away when the expected pain doesn't materialise.
It would be nice to think that this use of touch isn't a one-off and it would be nice to see an Android version soon.
Google Research is working on a new initiative to introduce kids to computing in ab entirely hands-on, physical way. A prototype has been produced to show how it the tangible programming approach  [ ... ]