Fingle is a game about touching people. Your friends, strangers, someone you have a crush on, someone you hate. No matter who they are, if you’re playing Fingle with them then you’ll be touching them.
This is a clever game with a good underlying knowledge of how people think. It’s cunning in its implementation and surprisingly affective. It can be tense, unnerving, joyous, flirty, exciting, absorbing or infuriating, depending on who you play with and your relationship to them. What initially seems like a simple iOS minigame actually has real potential to change how you think about the people you play with. The reason for this is simple; a touch from another person triggers so many emotional and physiological triggers that it has the potential to change how we think and feel about each other. Fingle makes us touch each other.
Perhaps the claims above seem a bit grandiose, so I’ll provide a brief anecdote that I think supports what I said above. Once on a night out two of my friends were sitting next to each other. They had been in a long relationship and had split up. Someone at the table, somewhat foolhardily, suggested we play a drinking game that involved crossing hands and moving them. The details aren’t important, the point is that very quickly the couple were forced into touching because of the rules of the game. There was nervous laughter from some of the people present, but the act of touching, even for a silly drinking game, helped to melt a frosty situation. The fact that they chose to play meant something for them and it was an important moment in their lives. For us humans touch conveys so much. As I said before, Fingle makes us touch each other.
So how does it work? Well its initially quite simple. A number of dotted squares and filled squares will appear on the screen. Your job is to move these dotted squares, by dragging them with your fingers, to the filled squares. There are two sets of each, yellow squares and white, and one played moves the yellows while the other moves the whites. Early on the target squares that you have to move into are static, but later they move around. The layout of the squares mean that you and you partner have to twist around each other, sometimes lightly brushing fingers, other times with your hands entirely twisted around each other. Its twister played out on an iPad screen, and its utterly absorbing. It also gets bonus points for looking like 70’s wallpaper.
The difficulty is well balanced with early levels teaching you how to play and later levels required ridiculous degrees of finger twisting and coordination between the two players. The whole time a bizarre, funky 70’s themed soundtrack plays; at least that’s how it sounded to me. Perhaps a better description would be elevator music meets porno acid jazz. Or maybe not.
At CalmDownTom we have played Fingle a lot. We played at parties. We played at nights out. We played at home. In a pub near my house a room of people laughed as I played with Eresin and her fingers slid between mine in what looked like a vaguely rude way that felt weird to me (and probably her too). At the recent Scottish Game Jam Eresin and Pandash played and every passer by slowed to see what they were doing as they walked past. At a party at my house two friends struggled to find a way to cheat at the game, using more hands and limbs than was allowed, much to the amusement of the rest of the room.
This is the kind of title that showcases why games are wonderful, and why hardcore gamers are too sniffy about what they derisively call “casual” titles. Killing angry middle class white boys in Modern Warfare might be fun, but games like Fingle are going for something different and more worthy. They are playing with our social interactions and are appealingly to everyone who has fingers… and anyone who likes to be touched.
9 fingers rubbed furtively out of 10