Grand Theft Gato? Games for your cat will totally not ruin your iPad screen…

Like many cat owners, I opt to keep my fluffy friend an indoors-only kitty. I live in an apartment complex near a busy road, but even if I didn’t, he would still be an indoor cat. The average life expectancy for an indoor cat is 12-15 years, while the average life expectancy of an outdoor cat is only 2-5 years. This is due in part to the typical dangers of not living a cozy, sheltered life, as well as a much higher risk of deadly diseases, such as feline leukemia.

Although I know I have his best interests at heart, I do admit to having mixed feelings about keeping my cat cooped up indoors, away from the world at all times. A cat is meant to be a cat! They are hunters and full of energy! You can see it in the way their ears perk up when they hear a bird, their eyes fixate on the smallest of movements, and in their notorious daily episodes of running around the house like a mad animal for no particular reason. However, this is the Digital Age. If we can’t have something in reality, we’ll simulate it! Thankfully for indoor kitties everywhere, Hiccup has done just that.

Whoever said video games are only for humans is obviously not up with the times. 2 years ago this month, Game for Cats debuted on the Apple iPad, and it’s exactly what it sounds like: a game for cats. Originally an imitation of a laser pointer, today’s most recent update of Game for Cats also simulates mice to play on cats’ predatory instincts. Although it is only a myth that cats can see in the dark, they do have superior motion-detecting vision, which explains how their eyes can dart around a room countless times within a split second when trying to catch a string – or in this case, a mouse on an iPad screen.

If you’re like me, and often deal with the split dilemma of keeping your kitty safe while wanting him to play to his predatory heart’s content, feast your eyes on Game for Cats. Of course, it does require you to have an iPad, but never fear about leaving your fuzzy friends to their own devices with such an expensive toy; many tests have ensured that sharp kitty claws will not pierce the iPad’s durable screen.


Sci-Friday Technology

Meet the sire of all vehicular manslaughter fantasy games: Death Race (1976)

I suck at video games.  The one and only time I attempted to play Halo, I somehow managed to keep shooting myself and that was the end of that. Not only am I terrible, but I tend to miss the point all together. Sure I could collect these coins and kill that boss, but I could also shoot a hole in this wall and have a dance party instead! Needless to say, I rarely get invited to play video games, and by rarely, I mean never.

However, despite my lack of gaming skills, I still consider video games an iconic part of my growing up. I’ve experienced most everything from my parents’ Atari when I was little all the way up through whatever the hell my boyfriend plays now. In addition to the consoles growing and shrinking and the graphics evolving from crude triangles on a screen to something so detailed and realistic it could pass for a movie, the hype surrounding games has been a constant source of media scrutiny for as long as I can remember; specifically, the controversial violence involved.

The earliest controversial game I personally remember is Doom, but this saga goes back even farther than that. Way back in the 1970s, a game named Death Race was released and soon granted the prestigious title of original controversial video game. What started as a harmless game of reckless driving soon turned into the mass murders of gremlins, which as we all know, is generally frowned upon and not okay.  Shame on you, Death Race!

Death Race is played by driving your car around a single green screen, purposefully trying to run over “gremlins”. Simple enough, right? Here’s the twist. After you hit a gremlin, he shrieks, dies, and then turns into a grave marker. The more gremlins you kill, the more graves you have blocking your path, which, if you’ve reached the supreme level of “Gremlin Hunter” or “Expert Driver”, all those tombstones can become quite an obstacle. Time to let those driving skills shine where they matter most!

Perhaps the premise of the game was a little strange, but all in all, relatively harmless. Um, no.  Apparently, these gremlins resembled common day pedestrians way too much, and this caused quite the uproar. Also, a movie of the same name starring Sly Stone as a pedestrian-killing racer was released just before the video game. Either that, or people in the 70’s were really passionate when it came to gremlin rights. Regardless, parents protested, and news magazines and late night television couldn’t cover enough of it. Obviously, sales went up and Death Race became a big arcade hit.

Despite its compromising portrayal of gremlins, Death Race has thrived and grown over the years. You might know it today as the Grand Theft Auto series, which ironically, is the only game I have ever been semi okay at playing. Think of it! A world without GTA! Thanks to our arcade rat friends from Gen X, we’ll never have to.

Have any geeky, spooky, awesome, or just plain weird goings-on in Roc? Tell us about them in the comment section below! We’d love to cover them for Sci-Friday.