“With their parallel lives, animals offer man a companionship which is different from any offered by human exchange. Different because it is a companionship offered to the loneliness of man as a species.”

John Berger, “Why Look at Animals?”1

The summer of 2022 witnessed, by chance, the simultaneous release of two games featuring animal protagonists: Stray (2022), a postapocalyptic cyberpunk adventure in which players steer a cat who has fallen into a subterranean city populated by robots, and Endling: Extinction is Forever (2022), where players embody a fox mother trying to keep her kits alive in the wake of wildfire and anthropogenic environmental harms. Stray, in particular, seemed to tug a cultural heartstring, with scores of videos being shared across social media platforms featuring real cats (and dogs) watching their owners play the game.2 Actual cats watched, chirped, and sometimes smacked the orange tabby prowling across the...

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