(sharon) #1
There’s a quiet
revolution happening
in games, and it’s
got everything to do
with dogs. Man’s best
friend. Woman’s worst
enemy. The hairy pals
we love to stroke. Ol’ four paws. Pooches
McGroo (feat. Missy Elliott). The barking
version of cats. Whatever you want to
call them, dogs are at the forefront of a
new frontier of technological progress.
And it’s thrilling.
You see, for most of history any
in-game representation of a dog was
programmed to do one or two things.
In first-person military shooters, for
example, their virtual canine brains
were hard-coded to sprint towards the
player as quickly as they could, barking
furiously until they leapt at your throat
and knocked you down to the floor. This
interaction would nearly always prompt
a short quick-time event that would
result in the player either plunging a
Bowie knife into the side of the guard
dog’s head, or allowing the dog – who’s
just doing what he was trained to, let’s
be clear here – to rightfully tear you
apart like you’re a torso-sized bag of
butcher’s cast-offs.
In every other game besides, dogs
were usually benign and stubbornly
non-interactive, with no motivation
beyond sitting there and maybe panting
every couple of animation loops. These
emotionally distant pooches were about
as responsive as those creepy life-size
charity boxes for guide dogs, which were
designed by somebody who thought
it was a good idea to be able to push
a pound coin into a dead-eyed golden
retriever’s hollow skull.

The problem
For years, videogame dogs were either
hyper-violent sadists with a singular
desire to perforate your oesophagus,
or braindead window dressing, hairy
curtains dotted about the place to keep

first moviegoers sprinting out the theatre
when they thought a steam train was
coming to get them.
And that is the unlikely paradigm shift
we’re lucky enough to be living through
today. Now more than ever, players
demand that hardworking coders and
animators devote their time and energy
to letting you pet the dog. If there is a
dog in the game, it is the solemn duty of
game developers to include the option
to take a break from whatever mission
or quest you’re on, crouch down, pat
them on their fuzzy little head, optionally
call them a “good boi”, and continue
on your way, buoyed by this simple yet
meaningful interaction.
And something like that means a
lot to players. In Fortnite, when it was
discovered that you could not, in fact,
pet the dog, there was sufficient outrage
from fans that Epic hastily patched in
the ability to stroke ‘em up real nice.
And when that dog-stroking animation
was deemed by the players as not
affectionate enough for their tastes,
further work was undertaken by the
developers to refine and improve the
petting action, until it met the audience’s
exacting standards.

The solution
We’ve entered a golden age of canine
interactivity in games, and we should
use this momentum to improve the
representation of dogs across all genres
and platforms. No longer should we
tolerate the negative and discriminatory
stereotype of a violent guard dog who
exists solely to latch his jaws onto your
shin, only to be mercilessly booted over
a six-foot high fence by rapidly pressing
the A button.
Instead, we should celebrate and
honour our hairy brothers and sisters,
by patting, by stroking and by petting.
Together, let’s usher in a new era of
canine positivity. Q

Steve also writes for City A.M.

environments interesting. The very notion
that you could stroll up to one of these
furry friends and be given the option to
pet them was absolutely unheard of.
The first time players were given the
option to stroke a dog, witnesses say
they ran out of the room, like the very


Steve throws his undying support behind videogame dogs

The Fixer

Steve Hogarty is...

“Dogs were

usually benign

and stubbornly



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