Video games are tests of skill, reflex, and problem solving. Platformers like Super Meat Boy challenge you to demonstrate your hair-trigger responses to successfully complete a level. First-person shooters like Call of Duty are a trial of your ability to get off that first shot before your opponent. The game itself knows exactly what you should do and when, it’s just up to you to provide the execution. Peter Buczkowski’s Twitch is an exploration of what a game would be like if it forced you to always provide perfect control.
That doesn’t mean that Twitch is challenging, and that it forces you to control the game perfectly in order to win. It means that Twitch physically forces you to control it perfectly, whether you want to or not. It does that with electrical impulses that cause you to tense up your muscles in the same way that you would if you were electrocuted with a taser. As the player, you have no choice in the matter — your muscles just react to the electricity.
While Twitch is somewhat sadistic, because those shocks can’t possibly feel good, it’s a really interesting introspective art piece about what a game actually is. Gamers will spend hours on platforms like Twitch.tv watching other people play, almost as if they themselves are playing the game by proxy. Twitch takes that to the logical extreme by forcing you to play the game without really being in control. The game itself is a simple Snake clone, but that doesn’t really matter when Twitch will force you to win even if your eyes are closed. At that point, you have to wonder if it’s even a game at all.