Cat On Yer Head

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★ “Lovely little game. Clever. Astutely designed.” – Bernie DeKoven, author of The Well-Played Game, reviews the game here and here.

★ “Get ahead, get Cat On Yer Head (…) I can’t recommend it highly enough” – The Edinburgh Evening News

★ “An interesting crowd based game where you’re making up the rules (…) Fantastic to watch a real-life iteration on a game design” – Ben Milsom, BBC 99 Coins podcast (at 22 mins 50 secs)

★ “Brilliant Playniac party/comedy game that turns audience into ‘drunken human computer’. Love it!” – Douglas Wilson, Die Gute Fabrik

★ “Cat On Yer Head is an extraordinary game, where players are not protagonists or antagonists but parts of the playfield, intelligent pixels guiding the course of cats and mice that literally don’t exist but want to catch each other anyway. It’s a delightful experience with a unique perspective on games, play and fun.” – James Wallis, Spaaace and Gamecamp

★ “Really want to play Playniac’s ‘crowd as computer’ game that he ran at GDCE. Genius idea!” – Ricky Haggett, Honeyslug

★ “Raise their imagination to find out more and more screws than a cat-and-mouse chase competition in the base game.” – Hungarian newspaper Népszabadság via Google Translate

★ “Totally brilliant party game by Playniac.” – Gabe Smedresman, game designer

★ “Fantastic! I think you’ve invented a new conference phenomenon!” – Ben Milsom, BBC (via Twitter)

Cat On Yer Head ( is a mass-participation, non-digital crowd game with a few simple rules. An imaginary cat is released into the audience and passed from person to person, where it must chase an imaginary mouse.

COYH at GameCity 6 (Nottingham) and Fuel4 Games (Glasgow)
COYH at GameCity 6, 2011 (Nottingham) and Channel 4′s Fuel4 Games, 2012 (Glasgow)

Not only is the game a prototype for the idea of turning an audience into some kind of human games console, it’s also an exploration of a novel form of game structure. Typically games are a confrontation or, sometimes, a collaboration between players. However in this case the audience actually become the framework upon which the game runs.

Gamecamp 6, 2013 (London)

In any single game players can be both the cat and the mouse at different times, and the game characters effectively pass through them. The individual is able to leave their own mark on those characters and influence the outcome. In every game, the audience take part in improvising new rules, providing a lot of laughs and an insight into game balancing and emergent behaviour.

Features invented by audiences include the Owl, which prowls around the edge of the play area; the Were-Mouse, a monstrous combination of two mice; the Elephant, which chases the cat but is scared by the mouse; and the Sardine Smart-Bomb, which stuns the cat for a short time when thrown.

COYH at GDC Europe 2011
GDC Europe 2011 (Cologne)

Here’s an interview with Rob in a park right after Cat On Yer Head was played by 450 people at Sunday Assembly in the Conway Hall, London.

And here’s Ben Milsom (BBC), Ricky Haggett (Honeyslug) and Dan Marshall (Size Five Games) talking about the game on the BBC’s 99 Coins podcast (edited).

Cat On Yer Head has been performed internationally, appearing at games events such as IndieCade, GameCity, GDC Europe and Edinburgh Interactive at the Edinburgh Fringe; comedy venues such as Science Showoff and Bright Club; and special events at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich and for Channel 4 in Glasgow. Here’s a full list of appearances:

COYH at the National Maritime Museum

National Maritime Museum, 2012 (Greenwich)

LEGup at Google Campus, 2014 (London) – Complete session

Photos from some of the above events can be found in our Flickr gallery and there is a video and blog post from the first performance, back in 2010. We’re delighted with author Bernie DeKoven’s words on the project: “There aren’t many of this kind of game. And it is profoundly welcome.”

COYH at GameCity 6's Wild Rumpus
Wild Rumpus at GameCity 6, 2011 (Nottingham)

Cat On Yer Head has also been widely adopted by others, whether becoming part of a game design course at Grafisch Lyceum Rotterdam, a live event at the Wellcome Trust or the inspiration for a multi-user mobile game at Flash on the Beach, Brighton.

Original concept co-created with Richard Butterworth.

Photo credits in order of appearance: Rob Davis, Channel 4, Navina Clever & Paulina Wanat for GDC Europe, National Maritime Museum, Zuraida Buter, Channel 4.


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