Cats finally take over the world with mobile game Neko Atsume

This article is part of a collaboration with iQ by Intel. Neko Atsume is a smartphone game where players can watch cats. They can’t pet them, or call to them, or scratch behind their ears. The most a player can do is buy a treat or toy and place it in a backyard. If the player is lucky, the toy will attract Snowball, a furry white kitty who enjoys playing with rubber balls. Or, if the player is really lucky, the toy might even attract Pumpkin—who eats all the tuna he can get his paws on. Yutaka Takazaki, the creator of…

Breath of Light

Breath of Light breathes new life into Australia’s game-making scene

This article is part of a collaboration with iQ by Intel. In 2011, curious creatures took over the music festival “Splendour in the Grass” in Woodfordia, Queensland. Jimmy McGilchrist designed “Curious Creatures” as an interactive exhibit for the public; silhouettes of strange animals were displayed on a large screen, as if fenced in on the other side. Attendees could approach and engage with them: Stick your hand out and the animal would dip its snout toward you; get too close and the large chicken-like thing might cackle and flutter away. By the end, the question of which creatures are meant…


The biofeedback games made to improve our well-being

This article is part of a collaboration with iQ by Intel. When Space Invaders dropped into Japanese arcades, the alien shooting gallery was such a phenomenon that the 100 yen piece, the equivalent of an American quarter, became a rarity. The game’s action was straightforward and exacting, and the narrative spoke to everyone’s inner xenophobe. Ultimately, however, it was the stellar soundtrack — a simple pulsing heartbeat that accelerated with each passing minute —that made each playthrough a thrill. Videogames have always had the ability to affect a player’’s biorhythms but now games are being created to pull those physiological reactions into…


The Year of Not Playing Games

This coming year, I will turn thirty-five years old. Such an accumulation of time brings certain privileges: the ability to run for President; the removal from key marketing demographics, aged 18-34, typically known as Young People; the necessity to buy shampoo that strengthens follicles at the root, “saving hundreds of strands per month.” When I entered that most trend-setting of audiences, way back in 1999, I did not foresee “playing and writing about videogames” as a key element of my identity in this far-flung future. And yet here I am, contributing to a year-end series about an industry whose evolution…


How a Small Team of Australian Game-Makers Reinvented Pac-Man

This article is part of a collaboration with iQ by Intel. // This past August, the latest version of Pac-Man reached #1 on the charts in Japan. This may not sound surprising. Until one considers that Pac-Man 256 is a touch-based mobile game made by a small independent studio from Melbourne, Australia. When Matt Hall and Andy Sum of Hipster Whale released their Frogger-inspired mobile game Crossy Road last November, their expectations were realistic. “We definitely didn’t expect any of this to happen,” Sum told me over the phone. “When we made Crossy Road, we knew we had a good game…