Cat’s Eye Slot Machine – The indie game genre of “silly animal exploration” has created a lot of fun and unique experiences. Here’s how we’ve enjoyed pantomiming: goats from hell, bears that drive cars and (if you let it fall into the genre) crooked, walking slices of bread.
But three years ago, Untitled Goose Game pushed the genre to its peak. Its production values, accessibility, and unique dry humor were a marked departure from the genre’s typical “barnyard animal” gimmick, and the result was a hit. At that point, I quietly wondered: Where else can video games with unexpected animal heroes go?
Cat’s Eye Slot Machine
, is quite plausible. This short but memorable adventure is a refined take on the concept, as if it had been made by an art studio film studio. It sits somewhere between the atmospheric and haunting exploration of the first
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And a children’s whimsy of a classic Studio Ghibli film. And it stars a cat: not an unrealistic talking cat with big eyes and Acme hammers, but one that solves puzzles, takes naps, explores tiny holes, walks on all fours, and almost always lands on its feet.
Crucially, the developers at the new BlueTwelve studio have an important contrast. The developer’s realistic capture of a domesticated virtual cat, as much in its aesthetics as in its controls, somehow fits perfectly into a surreal underground world full of robots, neon lights and mystery. In fact, this contrast helps the game bring out humor one moment and kindness the next; That’s one of the many reasons I recommend playing it.
I’ll admit, I was tempted to release my favorite cat games in this review, but that would betray the game’s seriousness.
It’s meant to be more of a meme explosion than you might expect from a “video game starring a house cat,” though if it makes you feel any better, the names of the game’s achievements and trophies are absolute moaners. (When the nameless cat is momentarily trapped, an achievement is revealed with the phrase “Al-Cat-Traz”).
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Zero dialogue input suggests that players are living an isolated experience where you—and your dedicated “meow” button—travers an empty world with little feedback. Fortunately, the game changes its landscape, and you eventually land in a world with its own language and social rules (yes, on all fours).
Conveniently, one of the locals takes a liking to you, and then realizes that he can open communication between you and everyone else… if he slips a high-tech harness over your body. As a cat, immediately
This thing, and you visibly struggle, as you’d expect from any cat forced by an owner to dress like, say, a character.
. (“Who’s my little Meow-colm Reynolds? It’s you!”) But after a few snaps, you make peace with the device as it expands your ability to understand what’s going on. The harness doesn’t translate your noises into words, though. This thing provides one-way communication. That’s one way of sticking to a Gordon Freeman archetype.
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Your appearance suggests to everyone that there may be a chance to escape from this underground and sunless world, as you somehow manage to avoid some of the evil monsters found among the outposts of the environment. “Can you help us?” It becomes a common refrain among the people you chat with. As a cat, you can get into places that people you know can’t, so you’re often asked to wander around and find lost items or occasionally explore the world around you to solve puzzles like deciphering the code for a safe.
Sam Machkovech Sam has written about the combined worlds of art and technology since launching his first syndicated column in 1996. He can occasionally be found wearing a mask in Seattle, WA. This copy is for your personal non-commercial use only. To order ready-to-use copies of Toronto Star content for presentations, to distribute to colleagues, clients or customers, or to inquire about permissions/licensing, go to: www.TorontoStarReprints.com
Did you ever think that a career could be based on gaming? More specifically, did you ever think you could make a living playing slot machines? Brian Christopher certainly not. But it’s not just his livelihood, he’s a rock star in the gaming world.
Christopher, 39, grew up in Burlington, Ontario. His YouTube channel has 190 million views as of November 17 and an average of 207,000 views per day. His channel is growing exponentially and, on November 15th, he reached 300,000 subscribers. Slots is celebrating $30,000 in play via a live stream on December 10 at 8 p.m. Live.BCSlots.com at San Manuel Casino in Highland, California.
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But Christopher didn’t set out to create a YouTube channel on purpose, at least not at first. As of early 2016, she was living in Los Angeles with her acting husband, Marco (as well as driving for Uber, Lyft, and working at a catering company, as actors do). He appeared regularly on the small screen: Hallmark’s “The Christmas Parade,” a Tim Horton’s commercial, as well as several television shows, including CTV’s “The Listener” and BBC’s “Copper.” So when he recorded himself on his second vacation to Las Vegas, playing the slots, it was on a whim.
“I decided to record some of my slots games because I saw people doing them on YouTube. And I thought it would be fun to do that. But I didn’t think much of it, there was no plan of action: ‘I’m going to make this my job’, just ‘let me shoot this for fun,'” Christopher said.
On April 18, 2016, Christopher posted his first video, which he said he thought would only be seen by his friends and family. Within a month, his following was growing so fast that he was invited to YouTube’s partner program, allowing him to earn money from his videos. YouTubers in the program earn an average of $3 to $5 per 1,000 views, meaning a video with one million streams would fetch $5,000, according to software company Intuit.
“You know what I decided, maybe I should just follow this and see where it takes me. And I’m happy,” he said.
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Christopher made YouTube his full-time job. He started booking trips and traveling to casinos to shoot content. He decided he wanted to upload a new video every day because no one else was filming himself playing slots at that rate.
“I think that’s what really helped my channel grow so fast. I didn’t know where it was going to take me, but I’m saying, ‘This is so much fun.’ I like to gamble and I like to entertain and I’m doing it all together,” he said. .
After a year, Christopher hired a video editor. He worked hard: in addition to posting daily, he took classes on how to better use YouTube, attended conferences, and constantly reached out to US casinos to see if they were interested in hosting him. He was also really good in front of the camera from the very beginning, which is thanks to his acting experience.
“I always pretend that my audience is there with me. Basically, I’m talking to them all the time.’
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In the first year, Christopher lost money on the machines, but he said he knew he would soon win, and not on the slot machines.
“I was fine (with no profit) at the time because it was an investment. I could see, month after month, my audience was growing, my income was growing, and I knew there would be a point where they would cross over and I would start making more money.’
“Slot machines are designed to take your money. So I always tell people, ‘If you’ve won a dollar, cash out, take your money and run. Because you’ve already beaten the system’”.
As his audience grew, so did his appetite for Christopher. They stuck to the phrases he would repeat. Christopher’s first phrase was “rude” whenever he didn’t win on a tour. This became the basis of his fan club, the Rudies, and the words Christopher would attach to his merchandise. Last June, Christopher consistently mispronounced the word “banzai” as “banza” every time he won every time he played a Karate Kid-themed slot machine during a live stream. His team, now a staff of five with an office, had T-shirts for sale featuring the word before the stream ended.
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Christopher’s most dedicated fans don’t just watch his videos. Many follow him on all social media platforms. While subscribing to a YouTube channel is free, many of its fans pay to join its tiered fan club through Patreon, where users opt for additional monthly fees to gain more access to creators.
In Christopher’s case, $5 a month gets you into a private Facebook group; $10 means it will follow you on social platforms and give you access to monthly live chats. $20 gets you all that, plus the occasional postcard. Christopher has over 2,000 members in his fan club. It also allows his fans to play with him in real life.
“He keeps evolving so that he doesn’t get his channel