It's all very easy to look back at things like Tamagotchi and Furby as nothing but sigils of the 90s, mere trappings of a time long lost. In truth, these kooky toys are just the beginnings of a trend that could extend far into the future, and come to shape the very ways we live our lives. We can brush these trends off as frivolous cartoony fun appealing to kids, but let's take a look at some of the most interesting examples of digital pets that could mould what we are to see in the future.
It's difficult to choose one thing that represents the entire notion of pets in a digital world. In the sense of role playing, and taking your virtual animals somewhere practical, it's a toss up between the likes of [Pokémon](tag:2538552) and Digimon. While Pokemon is very much about implementing the animals and using them for further gain, Digimon genuinely gives the sense that you are partnered with a creature, rather than owning them. The world of gaming opens up many possibilities for pets, in that the player intends to have an effect on the digital world, rather than fooling themselves in the real one.
Let's use Moshi Monsters as an example of how having digital pets can differ from the experience of keeping real animals. Moshi Monster users are advised to customize their pets, and impose individuality upon them. They can then engage with sets of activities at will. The monster in question has no say, and demands no real world input from the user. We've come a long way since having our Tamagotchis dying of hunger while we take time to, y'know... feed ourselves. Moshi Monsters begs the question however, of whether digital pets be called pets at all, when no real life demands are placed on the owner.
Neopets could be seen as the first example of digital pets having a genuine influence on the real world. On the face of it, Neopets is a simple case of customizing a basic cartoon, and connecting with a community of other users. It goes deeper, however, with the in-game economy that allows users to convert real money to an in-game currency, and sell the assets they've accumulated during play. Neopets appears innocuous on the outside, but I personally know people who are able to make a consistent living off playing it.
The Future of digital pets
The world of digital pets is set to go one of two ways. As robotics advances almost as fast as cloud technology, these two huge fields could be in contention, with our perchance for cute things being the determining factor. Terrifying, I know, but which form of pet would you rather see inhabit every day life. We could see robot dogs, cats, or any other kind of fantastical creature programmed simply to be company for those rich enough to afford the complex machinery. Then again, the practice could be democratized, with more and more of us constantly online, with hardware capable of running weighty programs at our fingertips. Is a non-human companion any less cute if it only exists in cyber space?
What's your take on digital pets? Have you indulged this passion, or do you find the entire thing a little weird? Where do you think the entire thing is headed? Let us know with a post here on MoviePilot, by voting in our poll, or by leaving a comment below!