Game developer Will Herring has created a game that simulates experiencing Social Anxiety at a house party. "Pet the Pup at the Party" is a first person game in which the main goal is, you guessed it-to find the host's Dogs and spend the remainder of the party petting your new furry friends. For anyone that struggles with social anxiety, this goal is anything but new, but it does a good and pretty funny job of accurately representing the experience.

Pups vs. Humans

The player isn't limited to just one pup in this simulation though. The goal is to pet as many dogs as possible in a given amount of time, which is displayed on the timer on top of the screen.

These puppies are used in the game because of their common use in helping several forms of anxiety in the real world. They can be found by listening and looking for their 'arfs' coming from maze-like rooms. Most of the dogs are different looking with their own bios, so you almost always have a new pup to pet. Different dogs can be unlocked after you pet them. After petting a dog more time is added to the timer, giving you even more seconds for more pup petting.

It's not just dogs you have to look out for though. Heller's game also keeps track of how many people you end up talking to. Being forced to talk to your own species will cost seconds. Therefore the pups are the preferred social interaction in this game, (obviously).

Not to worry though, you can push them out of the way.


The game does a fairly good job of accurately representing what it's like to actually have social anxiety - from the stress-inducing countdown to getting stuck talking to people and trying to get away from strangers. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), around 15 million Americans have social anxiety disorder.

Heller's simulation also manages to capture a feeling that even those of us who do not have social anxiety have experienced at one time or another. Therefore, Herring's game does a good job of avoiding romanticizing mental illnesses. We've all been at a party where we don't know anyone and all we want to do is find a furry friend to make us look less awkward about it.

Need these virtual pups?

Currently "Pet the Pup at the Party" is free to download at grey2scale's website for Mac and PC. However, Herring does allow a payment if you want to donate to help future game development. Only transactions through PayPal are available right now, but with increased popularity this could change. If you're looking for a quick, relatable game to play in your free time, Herring's "Pet the Pup at the Party" is a cute and addicting choice that comes strongly recommended. Good luck avoiding social interactions and collecting all the pups!