I realize that I’m late to the game — literally — on this one, but I am currently obsessed with the Japanese cat collecting app Neko Atsume. If you’re not familiar with it (and I apologize for the hours you’re about to spend playing it), it’s an app from Japan that allows you to feed and amuse cartoon cats, take pictures of them and go a little batty from listening to the music for hours on end. (My boyfriend calls this the “digital crazy cat lady app.”)
Now, I’ve been obsessed with apps before (and video games, and comic book series, etc.) I admit to spending actual real-world money on things like Candy Crush. I actually started seeing the bricks in my fireplace as little shiny candies. It caused hours of actual stress. I’ve had virtual fishponds where, if you didn’t feed the virtual fish, they’d “die,” making me feel guilty. (I recognize that this is a little crazy, but tell me you didn’t get upset when your Tamagotchi died.)
The reason I love Neko Atsume is there are no actual consequences to your actions. It’s relaxing. You feed the cats, but they’re not your cats. They just show up for snacks and playtime. If you don’t feed them, they just go eat in someone else’s yard.
OK, you say — so you’re a crazy lady who loves animated cats. Why does this matter? It’s because of the type of game this is. Look, I’ve been a gamer my entire life. I, like many of you, can get addicted to the rush of a game. And by rush, I mean stress. Can I beat the level? Will I make the raid on time? Can I keep fake fish alive? It occurred to me when I started dreaming about shooting bubbles at other bubbles and considered purchasing a fire bubble to blow up those bubbles that maybe I could use a little less stress in my life. Why was I adding to it?
In walked the little kitties of Neko Atsume. There is something really soothing about having no real responsibility. I get to look at adorable fake cats. They don’t need me to feed them. I can take pictures of them. There is one called Mr. Meowgi. It makes me laugh and I don’t dream about it every night. It’s, dare I say, relaxing. Maybe I should start downloading yoga apps next.