Players in World of Warcraft can now have virtual cats curl up in their virtual laps

[Interesting how small affordances can impact users in powerful ways that blur the real and virtual worlds; this is from SiliconANGLE, where the post includes an additional image. –Matthew]

Virtual cat in WoW tweet

Players in World of Warcraft can now have virtual cats curl up in their virtual laps

by Kyt Dotson | Jul 21, 2015

People are already able to play video games and have their cats curl up in their laps—but now World of Warcraft players can have their cats in games curl up on their characters’ laps. It’s cat lap inception!

This recent addition to Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.’s cultural juggernaut massively multiplayer role playing game (MMORPG) allows players to sit down with their in-game feline pets and have their cats curl up in their laps. The process is simple: target the cat, type “/sit”, and wait. After the character sits down the cat will mosey over and hop into your character’s lap.

This addition follows other “little things” that affect quality of life and quality of presentation for World of Warcraft players. In January of this year, Blizzard added selfie capability with an in-game camera that provides Instagram-like filters and the ability to post to Twitter.

These changes don’t directly affect the mechanics or content of the game, but provide new ways for players to interact with the environment and each other.

Currently, WoW is at a lull in content between expansions. The last expansion, Warlords of Draenor, dropped in November, 2014. Since then, however, the game has lost some of its base as players drained the new content and wandered onto other markets. That said, WoW still supports 7.1 million players as of Q1 2015 (Activision-Blizzard Q1 2015 financial report), down from 10 million right after the November release of said expansion.

Blizzard has long been into providing a better player experience through adapting social mechanics as well as user experience through the past decade that World of Warcraft has run and the addition of cat lap sitting is just another example of that paradigm of thought.

Virtual cats in virtual laps open up players’ hearts

It didn’t take long for the release of the cat lap functionality in World of Warcraft for a player to share a story about how this change brought the memory of his own cat back to him.

Blizzard Watch reports that HW_Dan from Reddit posted a story on the image sharing site Imgur about his cat Dave, who died in May of this year. To immortalize his cat, HW_Dan named his in game minipet cat after his lost cat, Dave, who now travels with him every day.

Dan describes his experience discovering the “sit in lap” functionality as an emotional surprise.

“Between his passing and now, I would always /sit with him whenever I was afk or alt tabbed. One day I stumbled upon him jumping into my lap, having him targeted at the time,” wrote HW_Dan on Imgur. “I was tabbed out after I had /sit, and tabbed back into wow to see him sitting on my lap. I cried for a while after seeing that.”

World of Warcraft may be a game, it may be a virtual environment rendered behind a computer screen, but even the littlest thing can have a vast emotional impact when virtual reality reflects personal reality.

With minipets Blizzard has long tried to reach out to pet owners in their community and now that cats curl up on laps, however small a change it may seem, the gaming company has done huge thing.


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