Video Games: Not Just For People Any More

Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
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Video Games: Not Just For People Any More

Being a writer here has introduced me to a wide array of bizarre events. I've seen unusual tech releases, odd news, strange happenings and quotes that made me at least wonder, once or twice, if the milk that commonly goes with my breakfast donuts had somehow turned alcoholic. But today, I caught a glimpse of something even more bizarre than just about anything I'd ever seen: gaming for cats.

Apparently, Purina--the guys who make Friskies cat treats--is putting up a whopping $20,000 in cash prizes for the top three games that make the best fit for cats. No, really. I assure you that this is the case; Purina's putting up some foldin' money for those who make a game that cats enjoy. Apparently, straight apps also qualify in the listings, which is still bizarre no matter how you slice it.

Said to be the first such "game jam" geared toward the feline market, it's set to last all weekend--the entire weekend before the GDC show, no less--out in Los Angeles. The best game gets $15,000, with the other two in the top three taking home $3,000 and $2,000, consecutively. Frankly, looking at that makes me think that maybe the prizes are a little improperly proportioned--I would have gone for $10,000 / $6,000 / $4,000 myself--but still, Purina's cash, Purina's call.

Registration is currently open, so those who think they've got a game that the feline set would like to play, well, go nuts.

On a certain level, this may sound like insanity on par with anything that ever spilled out of Arkham Asylum, but on another level--the business level--the idea of cat-centered gaming is not a bad idea. The fact, based on the APPA National Pet Owners Survey, is that Americans have been progressively spending more on their pets since 1994. Long-term economics students know that there have been at least three recessions in that time frame, and one global economic firestorm thanks to 2008, so to see a trend so relentlessly on the uptick despite the worst an economic landscape could chuck at it is the kind of thing that makes a person look twice.

Granted, the thought of buying a tablet just for kitty is probably too ludicrous to consider, but there are likely plenty of pet owners out there who'd plunk down three bucks just for the sheer spectacle of watching kitty work an iPad and actually play a game, complete with scoreboards and rankings. I don't even own a cat myself and I'd still pay three bucks to watch that go down. Thankfully, for those moments, I have YouTube.

Still, when there's a market afoot, one ignores that market at one's own peril, so it may well be that, before too much longer has passed, we're getting a look at a lot more games geared toward cats, especially on tablets and smartphones.







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