Schrodingers Cat

At EGX London there were a huge amount of fantastic games that I would never have known about if I hadn’t have gone, one of those is Schrödinger’s Cat and the Raiders of the Lost Quark. I got to speak with the Director and Creator of  the game at EGX London this past weekend, Kevin Beimers, who told me about the fantastic game that has just launched on Steam.

n3: So tell me why the name Schrödinger’s Cat?

Kevin Beimers: I realise that it comes with some baggage, but at the same time if you have ever looked up Schrödinger’s Cat, on Wikipedia, YouTube or anything, the images that are associated with it are so uninspiring. Their dull, their either diagrams or there’re a cat in a box, such a literal interpretation of what we are talking about, or it is a line drawing.

To anyone who has never delved into what physics is really all about, it can be pretty uninspiring to even walk through the door. I wanted to make a characters that physicists could appreciate and then rally behind. Something to say ‘yeah this is cool!’ as well as something that non-physicists could get behind.

When I start off a pitch to a publicist about Schrödinger’s Cat, my first question is ‘how is your Quantum Physics?’ They will then either say ‘Everyone knows what Schrodinger’s Cat is!’ or ‘Never heard of it’ which gives me my starting point.

What I have made is visually interesting and it is a lot of fun for everyone. Eight-year-olds and ten-year-olds are coming up to the EGX booth to play the game and go away with the idea that actually this is real and they are going to go home and look it up. It is educational in a way but for the most part it is a bit of fun. If you know your physics then it has a few physics jokes in there.

n3: Talk me through the game.

Kevin Beimers: The theory of Schrödinger’s cat being both dead and alive is actually not the focus of the game. Schrödinger’s Cat, in this game starts off as an established hero of the Quantum Universe. The entire game takes place in the particle zoo, which is a subatomic holiday destination. You have the zoo keepers who are looking at their monitors and suddenly the entire zoo goes AWOL. Nobody knows why or how, but they need to call somebody in to sort it out and Schrödinger’s Cat is the guy to do it.

When Schrödinger’s Cat arrives, he knows that he is there to solve a problem but doesn’t know what the problem is. So like the player, he is learning as he goes through the game.

The way that the games works is when you are arriving at the particle zoo, the first things that you meet are the Quarks. The Quarks are the building blocks of matter. For those who don’t know, Quarks make protons and neutrons, those make atoms and atoms make everything.

I have taken the Quarks, literally as these little beasts, that you can pick up and they will follow you around, and when you combine them into groups of three, they create things that help you out. For example helping to smash through the floor or a wall or helping you to get to higher places.

I like to pitch the game in three words or less as Odds World meets Lemmings. It’s Odds World in the sense that it is a learning curve, a puzzler, a strategic platformer and a really robust crazy world that’s really topsey-turvey and you have to find your feet as you go along. It’s like Lemmings in the sense that we give you what you need to survive but we don’t tell you how to use it. We know that it is possible, we say ‘here’s the bag and here’s the exit’ but you’re on your own from here.

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n3: What is your proudest achievement with Schrödinger’s Schrödinger’s Cat?

Kevin Beimers: That’s a tough one. I have enjoyed every part of the process but first of all, I am very glad that I have been able to put out my Schrödinger’s Cat the Hero Game before anyone else has. I like the balance that I have been able to achieve because when I have people come by the booth at EGX I will get a Physicist who walks by, sees the name, laughs, giggles or possibly folds their arms and says ‘What makes you think that Schrödinger’s Cat belongs to you?’ You can tell there is a bit of ‘Prove yourself!’ and I can.

I love physics, I love reading Brain Green and Steven Hawkings and stuff like that. That’s my spare time fun reading. So I like to think that I can hold my own in a decent conversation about Quantum Physics.

A lot of the work that has gone into the game, the storyline and a lot of the characters, have had their abilities and their interactions signed off by Physicists. So within the game, anyone who knows their stuff, when it comes to physics will get all of the jokes and it will find them the same kind of bad puns and goofiness that they can understand but will also be good for non-physicists too. It can be fully enjoyed on two levels – With or without a degree.

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n3: Big Bang Theory has helped to increase awareness about the physicist’s life and jokes and that is where I first heard about Schrödinger’s Cat.

Kevin Beimers: Yes, a lot of people have had Big Bang Theory as their gateway. I think a lot of people who come and see us have the Big Bang connection to it. I don’t watch a lot of it myself because I want my work to be my own and not be accidentally influenced by something else. I know that I have to go back and do a bit of a Big Bang marathon now that the game is finished.

I think for a lot of people, to have a show like the Big Bang Theory has turned on the ‘geek’ in a lot of us. Even when you think back to Sudoku first coming out and the whole world realised that it actually liked math and logic and that it was ok to do it publicly.

Geekery has kind of started to become sexier these days and so to have Schrodinger’s Cat come out a year from the discovery of the Higgs Boson, which made the front page all over the world and all that kind of excitement, it’s good timing. I think a lot of people are cottoning on to the fact that there’s more to life then you just have to buy milk on the way home.

n3: So how can people play Schrodinger’s Cat and the Raiders of the Lost Quark?

Kevin Beimers: It is currently available on Steam with a 20% off sale right now so it’s about £8 at the moment up until September 30.

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