Bret, who knows that cats are demonic creatures, asks:
I want to train my cat to play video games with me. Any ideas?
While I’ve never done this, nor heard of anyone doing it, I try never to let that stop me from speaking with authority on any subject.
So, my first thought: prepare to lose a lot. Cats are wicked fast, and will readily whup your ass at any video game you persuade them to undertake. And if you should beat them, they will punish you.
How do you persuade the cat to participate? One of the primary characteristics of most cats, you may have observed, is a lack of any desire to please. Unlike dogs, who will do anything for approbation, a cat will put up with being petted (let’s say) until they have had enough petting, and then it’s chomp! So you would have to find a game they really liked. For instance, it looks like this kitten would gladly play chase-the-dot for hours. Unfortunately it’s hard to see how you could turn this into an activity between you and the cat, that would also hold your own interest.
What other video games might cats like to play? As you noted, cats are basically a furry variety of hell-spawn. Their idea of play is to catch some small creature and terrorize it for a while until they get bored and kill it. So, what a game needs to capture a cat’s attention, is that they can cause suffering and death.
There’s no shortage of such games; the difficulty is in getting the cat to realize that’s what’s happening. If the carnage isn’t real enough, the cat may become frustrated and attack you instead. Even frogs, who are normally pretty phlegmatic, are likely to retaliate if they feel they’re being deceived.
Cats are used to the paws-on stimulation of manipulating things directly. A user interface designed for humans is a little indirect. You need to do something to convince them that the controls are worth messing with. You might mount a toy mouse on the end of their joystick, for instance. Or, as above, use a touch screen. But the cat needs his own screen, since if you try to use the same screen, your moving fingers become a more interesting game than whatever’s on the screen.
Also, the game must be designed to let the players easily swap screens. Cats consider all computer equipment to be their personal property, which you use at their sufferance (this also applies to furniture, food, etcetera). Once the cat sees that you’re paying more attention to your screen than you are to him, he will decide that’s the screen he wants to use.
The extra touch of reality you can get from 3D will also help the cat get into the spirit of things.