ARTS + ENTERTAINMENT

‘Stray’ cat video game brings some benefits to real cats

Aug 5, 2022, 5:30 AM
stray cat video game...
Screen grab of 'Stray' video game. (CNN)
(CNN)

NEW YORK (AP) — The virtual cat hero from the new video game sensation “Stray” doesn’t just wind along rusted pipes, leap over unidentified sludge and decode clues in a seemingly abandoned city. The daring orange tabby is helping real world cats as well.

Thanks to online fundraising platforms, gamers are playing “Stray” while streaming live for audiences to raise money for animal shelters and other cat-related charities. Annapurna Interactive, the game’s publisher, also promoted “Stray” by offering two cat rescue and adoption agencies copies of the game to raffle off and renting out a New York cat cafe.

Utah angle: University of Utah’s game design program ranked in top 10

Livestreaming game play for charity isn’t new, but the resonance “Stray” quickly found from cat lovers is unusual. It was the fourth most watched and broadcast game on the day it launched on Twitch, the streaming platform said.

Viewers watch as players navigate the adventurous feline through an aging industrial landscape doing normal cat stuff — balancing on railings, walking on keyboards and knocking things off shelves — to solve puzzles and evade enemies.
About 80% of the game’s development team are “cat owners and cat lovers” and a real-life orange stray as well as their own cats helped inspire the game, one creator said.

“I certainly hope that maybe some people will be inspired to help actual strays in real life — knowing that having an animal and a companion is a responsibility,” said producer Swann Martin-Raget, of the BlueTwelve gaming studio in Montpellier, in southern France.

Utah angle: Can video games relieve depression in older adults? University of Utah study to find out

When Annapurna Interactive reached out to the Nebraska Humane Society to partner before the game’s launch on July 19, they jumped at the chance, marketing specialist Brendan Gepson said.

“The whole game and the whole culture around the game, it’s all about a love of cats,” Gepson said. “It meshed really well with the shelter and our mission.”

The shelter got four copies of the game to give away and solicited donations for $5 to be entered into a raffle to win one. In a week, they raised $7,000, Gepson said, with the vast majority of the 550 donors being new to them, including people donating from Germany and Malta. The company also donated $1,035 to the shelter.

“It was really mutually beneficial,” Gepson said. “They got some really good PR out of it and we got a whole new donor base out of it.”

Annapurna also bought out Meow Parlour, the New York cat cafe and adoption agency, for a weekend, as well as donating $1,000. Visitors who made reservations could buy “Stray” themed merchandise and play the game for 20 minutes while surrounded by cats. (The game also captivates cats, videos on social media show.)

Jeff Legaspi, Annapurna Interactive’s marketing director, said it made sense for the game’s launch to do something “positively impactful and hopefully bring more awareness to adopting and not shopping for a new pet.”

Annapurna declined to disclose sales or download figures for the game, which is available on PlayStation and the Steam platform. However, according to Steam monitor SteamDB, “Stray” has been the No. 1 purchased game for the past two weeks.
North Shore Animal League America, which rescues tens of thousands of animals each year, said it hadn’t seen any increase in traffic from the game but they did receive more than $800 thanks to a gamer.

In a happy coincidence, the shelter had just set up a profile on the platform Tiltify, which allows nonprofits to receive donations from video streams, the week the game launched. The player channeled donations to the shelter, smashing her initial goal of $200.

“We are seeing Tiltify and livestreaming as this whole new way for us to engage a whole different audience,” said Carol Marchesano, the rescue’s senior digital marketing director. Usually, though, organizations need to reach out to online personalities to coordinate livestreams, which can take a lot of work, she said.

About nine campaigns on Tiltify mention the game “Stray,” the company’s CEO Michael Wasserman said. JustGiving, which also facilitates charity livestreams, said it identified two campaigns with the game.

For his part, Gepson from Nebraska reached out to an Omaha resident who goes by the name TreyDay1014 online to run a charity livestream. Trey, who asked that his last name not be used, has two cats, one of which he adopted from the shelter.

Last week, he narrated to viewers watching live on the platform Twitch as his cat character batted another cat’s tail and danced along railings.

“If I found out my cat was outside doing this, I’d be upset,” Trey said, as his character jumped across a perilous distance. Moments later, a rusty pipe broke, sending the tabby down a gut-wrenching plunge into the darkness.

“That is a poor baby,” Trey said somberly, “but we are okay.”

A $25 donation followed the fall, pushing the amount raised by Trey for the Nebraska shelter to over $100 in about 30 minutes. By the end of four and a half hours of play, donations totaled $1,500. His goal had been to raise $200.

“This has opened my eyes to being able to use this platform for a lot more good than just playing video games,” Trey said.
___

AP business writer Matt O’Brien contributed to this report.
___
Associated Press coverage of philanthropy and non-profits receives support through the AP’s collaboration with The Conversation US, with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. The AP is solely responsible for this content. For all of AP’s philanthropy coverage, visit https://apnews.com/hub/philanthropy.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

Arts + Entertainment

FILE - Motown's Barrett Strong arrives at the induction ceremony for 35th annual National Academy o...
CNN

Barrett Strong, Motown singer and songwriter, dead at 81

   (CNN) — Barrett Strong, the voice and songwriter behind Motown Records’ first hit, has died, according to a post from The Motown Museum. He was 81. “It is with great sadness that we share the passing of legendary @classicmotown singer and songwriter Barrett Strong. The voice behind @motownrecords’ first hit, the iconic “Money (That’s What […]
5 days ago
January 28 at Uta's Hogle Zoo is its Cats and Cocoa event, where families can learn more about the ...
Waverly Golden

Utah’s Hogle Zoo “Cats and Cocoa” event

January 28 at Uta's Hogle Zoo is its Cats and Cocoa event, where families can learn more about the endangered cats of the zoo.
8 days ago
KSL Newsradio's Park City correspondent Joe Davis says Slamdance showcases important independent fi...
Mark Jackson

The Slamdance Film Festival; a fun, quirky alternative to Sundance

The Slamdance Film Festival offers an alternative to the Sundance Film Festival. The event screens movies through Jan 26.
10 days ago
Senator Mike Lee is among those working on an amendment to protect religious liberties in The Respe...
Aimee Cobabe

Sen. Lee quotes Taylor Swift lyrics during Ticket Master/Live Nation hearing

Who knew Sen. Mike Lee is a swiftie? The senator quoted Taylor Swift lyrics multiple times at a senate committee hearing Tuesday.
11 days ago
After causing outrage by making over the Green M&M and launching a special bag featuring its new Pu...
Danielle Wiener-Bronner, CNN

M&M benches spokescandies for Maya Rudolph

After causing outrage by making over the Green M&M, M&M'S says it is taking a step back from its candy reps.
11 days ago
20160307



A hydrogen bomb is tested in Nevada. "Downwinders" says the bombs released radioactive ...
Mark Jackson

McAdams at Slamdance Film Festival, speaks on “Downwind” film

As a Utah congressman, McAdams introduced an amendment to a funding bill to prevent the resumption of nuclear weapons testing.
11 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...
Macey's

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
‘Stray’ cat video game brings some benefits to real cats