Pressing paws: Stray, the video game that’s a hit with cats (and their humans)

When a video game has us play as an animal, it’s usually a psychedelic anthropomorphic cartoon creature like Crash Bandicoot or Sonic the Hedgehog. We rarely behave like an animal, though when we do, it can be fun: 2019’s cult hit Untitled Goose Game stars a nasty goose that squawks, pecks, and chases its way around a village of pesky humans, for example. . Stray, released last week, has us play as the internet’s favorite animal, a cat, doing cat stuff: hitting ceilings, dozing on cozy cushions, pushing things off shelves for no apparent reason.

Owners film their cats hypnotized by realistic video game Stray – video

Gamers and critics have outdone Stray. Even peta likes it. But it has also won over the feline population. Players have been posting photos and videos of their own cats watching the game, seemingly mesmerized by the virtual cat’s startlingly realistic movement and meows. the twitter account @CatsWatchStray now he has compiled hundreds of them.

Playing #Lost @CatsWatchStray 🐱 pic.twitter.com/7dvIwzxfAe

– Jhonny Ventiades (@JhonnyVentiades) July 25, 2022

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“Working for so long on a game really loses perspective, so seeing people post their reactions, and more importantly their cats’ reactions, after playing this week has been a very rewarding and surreal experience.” for the whole team,” says Swann. Martin-Rage, producer at game developer BlueTwelve Studio, based in Montpellier, France.

Stray has been in the works since 2015. BlueTwelve Studios co-founders Colas Koola and Vivien Mermet-Guenet, who call themselves Koola and Viv, were fascinated by Kowloon Walled City, the mysterious, supposedly lawless enclave sheltered from the sun. of Hong Kong that was demolished in 1994. They felt that the verticality, mystery, and hidden pathways of such an environment would lend themselves well to exploration as a curious feline, and thus the concept of the game was born. Stray was finally announced in 2020, after it was picked up by art house publisher Annapurna Interactive.

The main inspiration… Murtaugh.
The main inspiration… Murtaugh the cat. Photography: Annapurna Interactive

It’s obvious from all the charming details, like the way the cat scratches any available fabric surface, that this game was developed by cat lovers. In fact, the team was inspired and comforted throughout Stray’s long development by their own cats. “One of the co-founders’ cats, Murtaugh, was the main inspiration for the hero images,” says Martin-Rage. “They found him on the streets of Montpellier and he has been here since the beginning of the project. He was right in front of our eyes the entire time and has been a constant source of inspiration and support in his own unique way. While the lead is not a carbon copy, Murtaugh seems happy with the result.”

There were even cats in the office with them, which occasionally meant a rather chaotic work environment. “We have two cats that work with us almost every day in the studio: Jun, who belongs to Clara, the level artist, and Oscar, the hairless sphynx cat, owned by Miko, the head cat animator,” explains Swann. . “They are very lively additions to the team and we love them very much, even when they hit the power button on the computer just as we are about to save our work.”

Stray's cat in the game greets a robot.
Charming details… The cat from the Stray game greets a robot. Photography: Annapurna Interactive

My own cat, Kim, a nine-year-old Bengal mix who enjoys making mysterious noises in the middle of the night until I’m forced to go investigate, wasn’t at all upset when I played Stray, because she’s contrarian and I never do. nothing worthy of social networks to please me. However, watching clips of other people’s cats wiggling their ears and scanning the screen with a curious paw has been a delight. “It was a really nice moment when we started to see the cats in the office react to the cat on screen,” says Martin-Rage. “It gave us a great feeling that we were headed in the right direction. And when we saw that so many other players’ pets had such strong reactions (trying to play, catch, and interact with the cat on the screen), we were very happy.

“We hope cats enjoy Stray as much as their owners. I’ve seen some messages where people said that after finishing the game, they just wanted to hug their cats, and really that’s the best reaction we could have hoped for.

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