You are not alone, according to RMIT researchers who are discovering pets could be gaming as much as their humans.
RMIT University Professor Larissa Hjorth said an on-going, three-year study into the everyday gaming activities of Australians in the nation’s capitals has revealed people are playing electronic games devices – and so are their cats.
“When we started, we were not expecting to find anyone other than humans playing games, but it seems their animals are joining in with them as well,’’ Hjorth said.
“We are all aware that some families have animals that are part of the family, but when we began our research, we didn’t think the interaction between the humans and animals would extend to things like play and gaming.’’
Hjorth said the researchers have been surprised by the results.
“The study initially turned up just one home in Adelaide where a cat played electronic games, but we have since uncovered more.
“It seems it’s a case of cats watching their family members and noticing when the games are about to start and wanting to join in.
“In one household, a girl aged about 10 had noticed that her cats were keen on the screen and she searched the subject and discovered a trend in which humans versus cats, and it appears the cats are winning.
“We have since found another three homes in which cats are actively playing on iPads while two others are being trained to play.
“It seems in some homes, cats are seen as equal members of the family and the relationship between humans and their animals now extends to play.
“The haptic (touch) quality of many iPad games invites both humans and non-humans to engage.’’
Drawing from her three-year ethnography into Australian households and their use of mobile gaming as part of broader socio-cultural practices, Hjorth said playful media saturate our lives.
“From cats on couches playing the Friskers® game on an iPad to old, disused consoles transformed as sculptures adorning bedrooms, playful media saturate our lives.
“These playful objects move in and out of the background of our everyday, reminding us play is integral to wellbeing, being creative and resilient.’’
Hjorth is an artist, digital ethnographer and Professor in the School of Media and Communication.
As part of her Australian Research Council discovery grant research into mobile gaming in households, Hjorth will host an art exhibition at Centre for Contemporary Photography to further explore the connection between art, games and play.
Audiences are invited to consider connections between contemporary and older forms of playful media.
“The Art of Play seeks to connect the histories of play by exploring the entanglements between online and offline, and past and present.’’
Audiences young and old will be invited to partake in playful encounters.
“Visitors can construct their own playful intervention in the space and then capture and share these via their camera phone apps.
“Each week, the audience’s adventures will be printed and continue to fill the wall until the end of the exhibition.’’
Deputy Dean of Research and Innovation in the School of Media and Communication, Hjorth said she appreciated why people wanted to play games with their pets.
“Gaming is not just a skill-based activity for a select few.
“Rather it is an engaging social activity that can help foster intimacy and relationships — it can help to create stronger bonds in and around the home.’’
What: The Art of Play
Where: Centre for Contemporary Photography, 404 George Street, Fitzroy.
When: 3 July - 6 September 2015