11 Year Old Game Development: Happy Cats

Happy CatsEver since my daughter decided that she wanted to develop an iPhone game, she’s been wracking her brain for ideas. Then after she comes up with an idea, there is a rapid-fire question and answer period with Dad (me). Here’s her idea for “Happy Cats”.


One Saturday afternoon I walked by as my daughter was furiously drawing with pencil and paper. When I asked what she was doing, I was amused to learn that it wasn’t homework, it was her latest iPhone game idea.

“It’s my new game, Happy Cats”.

“Oh,” I replied, “how does it work?”

“Here, let me show you Dad!”

This was the picture that she turned to show to me while she explained:
Happy Cats

“So remember when you told me that I couldn’t just copy Angry Birds?”

“Yes.”

“Well this isn’t a copy, it’s the OPPOSITE! See? Angry becomes Happy, and Birds becomes Cats. Happy Cats!! And then the Angry Birds guys won’t get mad at me because I’m not stealing their idea.”

“Oh.”

“But – and here’s the good part – I still get to use their name in my description! See? I can say ‘If you like Angry Birds, then try Happy Cats’ and then I still get to mention Angry Birds so that people who are searching for ‘Angry Birds’ will also find my game!”

“So this is all about marketing…”

“Of course! There are so many games now, how else will people find mine?”

“You got me there. Do you think your game will be fun for those people?”

“Sure! See, here’s how it works….” She then proceeds to tell me more about the game mechanics, which as it turns out are actually pretty funny: you collect birds to throw into the cat’s mouth, and the cat eats up all the birds. Then the cat is happy.

While this is going on, her little sister overhears our conversation and runs to her room, coming back with a piece of paper in hand. She thrusts the paper at me, “Dad, look at my game!”

Here is the diagram from my younger daughter:
Happy Cats 2

After hearing the explanation of how this game works, my older daughter turns to the younger one and says, “well that’s not bad, but nobody will buy your game, because they won’t find it. Happy Cats is better because people will find it.”

Then they get into heated discussion of whether it’s more important to concentrate on game play or marketing. I don’t think there was ever any agreement on this.