Humans are invited to take on the ultimate cat challenge: catch the laser.

LASER CATS!!! is a two-player game by DongChan Kim and Jenny Lim.

One player is the Cat.
One player is the Laser.

How many points can the Cat get in 30 seconds?

LASER CATS!!! was on display at the ITP Winter Show in December 2016.
It was conceived as a final project for the Introduction to Physical Computing class at NYU's ITP.

The current high score is 33.

 

DEVELOPMENT

LASER CATS!!! was inspired by the question, "How can people emulate the movement of cats?"

A classic question, to be sure.

 

At first, LASER CATS!!! was a single-player game that pitted the player against a mechanized laser mounted on servo motors. As the points racked up, the laser's movement would speed up.

However, a suggestion from our professor Tom Igoe led us to believe that we were introducing unnecessary mechanics: after all, isn't it more fun to create an interface in which people can playfully interact with one another?

 
 

User testing confirmed that more fun was had by all when the laser was controlled by another person. Some players would "take it easy" on their friends; others would present impossible challenges.

When the laser was controlled by another player, the unpredictable nature of gameplay led to a more exciting experience for both players and spectators.

Once we transferred control of the laser over to a second player, our job became quite clear: to lay the best possible groundwork for this interaction. We wrote the code using P5.js, a javascript library.

After much testing (and physical exertion), we found that the best game was composed of two 15-second intervals of play, with a brief 8-second intermission in between. Solar cells on the backs of the paws are wired to an Arduino with coiled telephone cables that allow freedom of movement. Each time a solar cell registers a jump in light levels, the player gets a point.

Thankfully, the brevity of LASER CATS!!! allowed hundreds of users to play the game over the course of its two-day installation at the ITP Winter Show in 2016.
 

You can read more about the development of LASER CATS!!! on my blog.