If social networks have taught us one thing, it’s that everybody loves cute animals. Whether they’re cats, dogs, birds, bats, llamas or lemurs, it transpires that nothing melts the heart quite like a cute animal. Heck, ‘cats and the internet’ even has its own Wikipedia page.
Whilst the popularity of cute things might not be too much of a surprise, the sheer outpouring of love found online is pretty remarkable. It’s in video games, however, where the more interesting uses of cute animals are found.
Game developers are endlessly inventive types and they’ve weaponised our heightened emotions to create amazing, compelling experiences. Animals have been a part of the video game industry since almost the beginning – albeit in blurry, pixel art form – and today form the backbone of countless incredible games.
Here are three ways that video game developers use cute animals in their games.
To Make us Feel Powerful
At their heart, many video games are power fantasies. They offer us the ability to do things and be things we would never be able to do. Whether it’s single-handedly turning the tide of a battle or setting off into space to explore far off worlds.
Back on terra firma, video games have long used cute animals to make us feel powerful. The Pokémon series, for example, tasks us with finding, capturing, training and battling with over eight hundred absolutely adorable creatures to help save our friends and the world.
There’s also Ubisoft’s Far Cry series (pictured above), which has given us the ability to ride elephants into battle, use hawks to scout out camps and, of course, the chance to stroke 17 big cats in Far Cry Primal.
To Bring Joy
Sometimes, cute animals are there to bring us nothing but joy. Not every video game has to be grim, dark or serious – sometimes they can be stress relievers or just simple, raw entertainment.
It’s why games like Fluffy Favourites from Buzz Bingo are some of the most popular slot games in the field – playing Bingo is a popular pastime online and in bingo halls, but somehow fluffy animals just take the enjoyment that little bit further. It’s also why Nintendo’s Animal Crossing franchise fills your towns not with other people, but with absolutely adorable anthropomorphic animals – because they make us smile, pure and simple.
To Capture New Players
Games can be difficult, and so the problem for developers is: how do you get people to give your game a try? A strong marketing push could help, but for those just browsing titles in a store, that marketing rarely means much. Hence, developers have long used cute animals to get us to give their game a shot. By casting the player as a cute animal, we’re subconsciously lulled into a sense of ease, which, when the difficulty begins to ramp up, can fall away quickly.
There are dozens of games which use this time-tested formula: from Ecco the Dolphin to AiAi in Super Monkey Ball and Amaterasu in Okami, games have always hidden difficulty behind cute animals.
What’s your favourite example of cute animals in video games? Let us know in the comments below or on our social media!