Digital Distractions: Interactive Cats


With my semester hitting crunch time, I’ve been using a number of digital distractions for quick breaks in between grading and editing. The internet is, of course, great at providing cat pictures for those who turn to Facebook or Twitter for diversion — but there’s also a number of recent awesome cat-centric interactive works that can provide both cool models of interactivity and cuteness. Here are three of my current favorites:

  • Kittens Game (by bloodrizer) - The Kittens Game may not look like much when you start: there’s a serious lack of kitten pictures, certainly. But it’s a fascinating idle game that can sit in your browser even as you work on other projects. You play by making decisions for a village of kittens setting out to gather catnip and gradually developing into a complex society. Check out the game’s wiki for hints and insight into just how far this culture-simulator goes, with models for religion, technology, and even arts and literature encoded into the potential futures for kitten society.

  • Cat++ (by Nora O’ Murchú) - There are lots of awesome ways to showcase the fun side of coding, but my new favorite is Nora O’ Murchú’’s Cat++, a programming language based on cat behaviors and resulting in live reactions from animated, pixelated cats. You can download Cat++ on Github, but to run it and try interacting with the cats yourself you’ll need Processing, an open-source visual programming platform. In The Creative Project’s interview, Nora O’ Murchú’ observes: “There are a lot of reasons for coding your own language. Code can sometimes be a medium for expression that is most suitable for what you want to express conceptually. Like any other tool or medium, it has qualities that, when interacting with it, afford new capabilities that we might not have previously had.”

  • Neko Atsume: Kitty Collector (by Hit-Point) (pictured below) is a mobile game about cat-collecting. Adorably illustrated, it’s another idle game that demands patience, as most of the player’s interaction is simply setting out food and toys to create a place where cats will hang out. It’s perfectly adorable, and it has a fairly self-sustaining economic model as cats who enjoy the yard will leave fish (the game’s currency), which in turn is used to purchase more food and toys.

This can be a very busy time of year, but finding time for a break is essential. Got a favorite cat-centric digital distraction? Share it in the comments!

[CC BY 2.0 Photo by Doug Woods]

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