Creatives: Desmond Wong

How did a Singaporean video game about cats become a cult favourite around the world? It's not so im-paw-sible after all.

Creatives: Desmond Wong

Of 30,000 titles on video game digital store Steam, the Singaporean-made Cat Quest shines bright. In the two years since its launch, it’s garnered thousands of glowing user ratings for a rare score of “Overwhelmingly Positive”. This 2D role-playing game is the brainchild of The Gentlebros, a game development studio Desmond Wong co-founded with Leon Ho and Nursyazana Zainal.

Cat Quest has since sold over half a million copies and raked in a seven-figure sum. The second instalment, Cat Quest 2: The Lupus Empire, drops this month.

How in the world did Cat Quest become a thing?

Role-playing games have always been really bloated, grim affairs, but Cat Quest is cute, accessible and simple to play. Lots of people emailed us to say how happy the game made them; some parents even shared how Cat Quest helped them introduce their kids to gaming! A seven-year-old girl from the US wrote us a letter to thank us for making such a cute game and she drew lots of cats on it.

How did you build on the concept and design for Cat Quest 2?

For Cat Quest, I looked at a whole bunch of stuff such as Pokémon for inspiration but I eventually drew what I felt was cute. For example, every house has cat ears, and trees are super-cuddly. For Cat Quest 2, I am introducing dogs so the environments have been designed with their passion for digging up and burying stuff in mind.

Toughest bit about what you do?

Developing a game can make you feel as if you’re constantly having to solve problems. You don’t know if it will work out until the end so sometimes it can become demoralising.

Do you think video games will become cultural artefacts?

Yes. Video games are like movies, cartoons and books; they are things we will pass down to the next generation. When I was young, my father and brother introduced me to video gaming and — this may sound clichéd — my fondest childhood memories revolved around these games. Now I’m introducing gaming to my niece, who loves playing the old-school Mario games. It’s wonderful to know that my work will impact a younger generation.

Read more about Singapore’s other creative minds here.

This story first appeared in the September issue of A.

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