In the almost 10 years he’s been on this Earth, my cat Nuka has seen a lot of videogames. It’s only natural, of course; I’ve been writing about games for as long as he’s been alive, and I work from home. The day I brought him home at eight weeks old, he climbed up my back and sat on my head while I tried to play Fallout 3. You could say they’ve always been a part of his life.
There are times when he’s exhibited a sort of jealousy when it comes to my gaming. During the launch of Fallout 4, for example, he seemed to resent that the game was preoccupying my time and began to make a nuisance of himself, draping his giant body over my keyboard and mouse, and stealing items from one of the many packages arriving during the game’s launch and squirreling them away. Occasionally, if I fire up Fallout: New Vegas, the sound of gunfire seems to trigger a sentimental memory for him, and he’ll snuggle up in my lap, perched like a gargoyle on my left knee as I angle my elbow over his head so I can still use WASD. He keeps me company and I appreciate that, but if he’s ever paid attention to what I’m actually doing on screen, he’s certainly never shown it. He’s been around games, but he is a cat, and thus, they do not hold much interest for him.
That is, until this past weekend when I got a chance to sit down and enjoy The Stillness of the Wind, a quiet little storybook farming simulator that I first demoed last year at PAX West. The game is such a pleasant detour from the grind of videogames. I’ve been spending several lovely hours hobbling around my small garden, bartering for seeds, milking my goats and making cheese, without a care in the world outside the occasional threat of wolves and Talma’s loneliness for her family. The timing of playing it has been especially good with the changing weather and seasons; it’s been sunny lately and I got to open the windows near my PC and let the light and the breeze in, enhancing the experience.
Equally enhancing it though is how much Nuka is enjoying the game. I’ve never seen anything like it. He usually ignores me when I play games, and he’s never been fooled by bird videos on YouTube. But as I work through The Stillness of the Wind he’s been alert and taken an interest I’ve never seen before. As my first day on the farm passed and the game’s night cycle turned to dawn, he crept to the edge of my desk and just sat, staring into the TV and chasing the birds as they flitted and darted across the screen. This went on for 45 minutes, until I was ready for a break, but picked up when I returned the next day. He even stood on his hind legs and tried to dig his way through the TV. It’s one of those moments as a pet owner that you’re almost afraid to ruin by filming, but I did it anyway.
I really don’t blame Nuka for liking The Stillness of the Wind so much. My PC is near his favorite spot to watch birds and I’m sure his little cat brain was fooled by some of the overlap as I played. Nonetheless, it’s endearing that we got to cuddle up on a weekend morning and enjoy its idyllic beauty together. I can honestly think of no better endorsement than this: my cat really recommends this game.
Holly Green is the assistant editor of Paste Games and a reporter and semiprofessional photographer. She is also the author of Fry Scores: An Unofficial Guide To Video Game Grub. You can find her work at Gamasutra, Polygon, Unwinnable, and other videogame news publications.