‘Pet the Pup at the Party’ Is One Extremely Relatable Game

I’m quite sure some people are excellent at house parties. Excited to make new acquaintances, excellent at keeping conversations going, gracious to their hosts, and entirely confident.

For the rest of us (and there are a lot of us), there’s Pet the Pup at the Party, which expertly simulates the experience of being somewhere unfamiliar, surrounded by people you don’t know, holding out hope that you might find a distraction that is more social than hiding behind a phone but less social than actually talking to strangers.

Pups: is there any situation they can’t improve?

Pet the Pup at the Party turns that experience into a speedrun. You have about 2 minutes to find a pup somewhere in a labyrinthine house. Guided by audio and visual “Arfs,” you track one down and pet it — and then get 30 more seconds on the clock to find the next.

There’s a gallery of 52 dogs to unlock, each one based on a real-life pupper introduced to Pet the Pup’s creator, Will Herring, either in real life or online.

Talking to Mic about his inspiration for the game, Herring said, “I’ve always been trying to make goofy, autobiographical, overly sincere things and this is an experience that I think is pretty common — being in a place where you don’t know a lot of people and finding a kind-of relief when you see a dog or a cat or a rabbit or whatever animal is around the house.”

Of course, meeting new humans is a great idea, too. But in a pinch, when you’re anxious, a dog’s a pretty good bet. Far better than staying home every time — avoiding the things that trigger anxiety can, in the long run, make matters worse. And there aren’t many occasions a good dog can’t improve.

Want to pet some virtual pups of your own? You can find Pet the Pup at the Party over at itch.io on a pay-what-you-want basis.