Nothing ruins a gaming experience like realizing the virtual world has a serious lack of canine interaction. Well, after running into too many games where players couldn’t pet the dogs that appeared on-screen, one anonymous Twitter user recently decided to create an account decided to cataloguing all the dogs you can pet in video games. At @CanYouPetTheDog, followers learn not only which games feature pups in the first place, but which contain dogs that are actually pettable (via your avatar, of course, but you get the idea). It’s a pretty brilliant idea, and with 185,000 followers and counting, it’s clearly resonated with many dog-loving gamers across the world.
In a Fanbyte article, the account’s creator explained that they started @CanYouPetTheDog back in March solely to note their own annoyances about games without dog petting such as Ubisoft’s The Division 2, which features “stray dogs that players were unable to calm, caress, or otherwise reassure.” Yet in the weeks since the account launched, it’s rapidly grown into a community of gamers who love interacting with digital dogs and want to know when and how they accomplish that goal.
“Almost immediately, the endeavor was supported with scores of like-minded individuals — reaching over 85,000 followers in a week’s time,” wrote the creator on Fanbyte. “I do not entirely attribute the account’s success to myself, or even to scratching that easy, curious itch of providing specialized game trivia. Instead, I think it is thanks to the collective acultural need — a deep and unsatisfied yearning for comfort-based interactions in escapist entertainment.”
That yearning is common with many facets of gaming, the creator adds via Twitter when contacted by Mic. “When you see a door in a video game, it is disappointing if you are not able to do what comes natural, which is opening the door,” they explain. “Similarly, if you see a dog in a video game, a common instinct is to attempt to pet the dog. If no such interaction is programmed, the illusion of the game world briefly breaks down.”
But if so many people clearly want to pet dogs in video games, why is it so difficult to do just that? The creator theorized in the Fanbyte piece that it’s because creating pettable dogs in games requires “substantial resources,” and as enjoyable as the action might be for players, “there is no appreciable gain for dog petting in video games, because these universes are not built to reward these interactions. Those work hours could be better spent building, refining, and expanding on moment-to-moment gameplay.”
In other words, developers would rather spend their time on features that help facilitate progress and important gameplay, not just fun. That’s understandable, but many people feel that dog petting is an essential feature for games to have, judging by the Twitter account’s success. Luckily, some video games have been updated to include this ability, perhaps inspired by @CanYouPetTheDog’s reach and passionate followers.
Not all these updates have been flawless; Fortnite, for instance, has been criticized for making the petting action look more like a swipe than a proper pet. Yet hopefully, the continued growth of @CanYouPetTheDog and the enthusiasm of its followers will lead to further dog-petting improvements, and more and more games that incorporate pettable dogs whenever possible. After all, the creator tells Mic, “it is a shame when artists and animators go to great lengths to design a good dog, but there is no way for players to tell the dog that they are good.”