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Thrift’s discussion of the body, specifically its sense of touch, and his predictions regarding its evolving interaction with the development of virtual motion-driven spaces, can be illustrated (or potentially problematized) through an examination of the advances in video game technology. He argues that “the sense of touch will be redefined in three ways as haptic engineering moves beyond today’s primitive keyboard, keypad, mouse and data glove.” He says 1. that touch will be considered a “sense that can stretch over large spaces”, 2. that “all manner of entities will be produced with an expanded sensory range”, and that 3. this will lead to a redefinition of our sensory experiences as there will be “newly touchable entities”.

In playing Myst, a game manipulated with the mouse, already seems to apply some of the extended definitions in the interaction between the body and a virtual space. The game does not assign an avatar to control but rather uses the point of view of the frame to directly submerge us in the space. The cursor, which incidentally is shaped like a small pointing hand to guide you, becomes an extension of our body and our sensory link to the world. Thinking of more recent developments in video game consoles, however, seem to challenge some of these hypotheses – though they might, in fact, point exactly to the expansion of our definitions. This is not my area of expertise, but it seems that the ultimate objective of recent technology is eliminate the intermediary of touch altogether. From XBox dance games that detect your movements without a mediating control to (often fictional/futuristic) images of interfaces operating through motion or voice commands, the complete integration of the virtual world into the physical one (operating without the explicit intent of touch but rather through the intuition of movement) seems to be the goal of technological advancement.