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Bond University student captures global audience with iPad app

An iPad app developed for over-active Gen Y kitties has reached a global audience of felines and curious pet owners with 25,000 downloads, cracking the number one spot on the free iPad game charts since launching earlier this month.

The mastermind behind the Affection Collection iPad app, Bond University Bachelor of Computer Games student Saxon Cameron collaborated with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) to design the app as part of his course work.

The app comes complete with a computer generated ball of yarn, a mission to protect the cheese from mice and an ambitious challenge that turns your everyday moggie into a virtual masterchef.

Saxon explains his success is in part due to the approach he took to research what is in market and in particular defining the target download audience.

“In theory, even if I created the best game for cats, the cats could not physically download the game, or tell their friends about it,” said Saxon.

“I needed to add in elements that would firstly appeal to a human audience, and provided the cats interact with the game in some way owners are bound to react to the fact that their cat is engaging in gameplay. I see presence in social media as being important for the game to spread around Australia and the world.”

RSPCA spokesperson Amanda Appel said, “The only brief given when we first met with Saxon was that we wanted an app for cats.

“He took this concept and ran with it, surpassing all of our expectations – we are so pleased with the outcome of this game, and are very grateful to Bond University for giving RSPCA this opportunity,” she said.

The apps immediate success means Saxon has been busy fine-tuning the app and introducing improvements.

“After seeing the app’s initial success, I quickly worked hard to finish the first update that will allow more complex functions such as multi-touch; this means the cat can still fully interact with the game when using more than one paw or standing on the screen, for example,” he said.

“I’ve also taken on board the feedback for the need to increase the maximum high score and balanced the difficulty of some games so they last longer.”

Bond University Associate Professor of Multimedia and Games Penny de Byl supervised Saxon’s project from development to delivery and explained the subject requires students to create an interactive experience for a chosen audience.

“The subject was run as a special topic at the end of last year and students were required to create a mobile game from scratch,” explained Associate Professor de Byl.

“This includes designing the game, pitching to potential clients, managing the production, testing and an AppStore release.”

The opportunity to create this type of app is part of the Bond University Bachelor of Computer Games curriculum that encourages hand-on learning and industry interaction.

As far as career ambitions go, the future isn’t all about paw prints and cats for 19-year-old Saxon. Due to graduate in September 2012, he has his sights set on a career in serious game development.

“My primary interest lies in serious game development and games for change, or in other words, games for a good cause,” explains Saxon.

“Long-term I will look to apply my skills to those areas and though it is likely I will begin in the entertainment sector. I'm very passionate and driven when it comes to the games industry, so I would genuinely be happy to break through into the industry, wherever or however that may be.”

Bond University’s Bachelor of Computer Games teaches students the theoretical and practical aspect of interactive entertainment production and development. The program takes into consideration aspects of advertising, journalism and multi-media with input from industry to ensure graduates are work-ready.

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