What is a digital pet?

digital_petA digital pet (also known as a virtual pet or artificial pet) is a type of artificial human companion. They are usually kept for companionship or enjoyment. People may keep a digital pet in lieu of a real pet.

Digital pets are distinct in that they have no concrete physical form other than the hardware they run on. Interaction with virtual pets may or may not be goal oriented. If it is, then the user must keep it alive as long as possible and often help it to grow into higher forms. Keeping the pet alive and growing often requires ‘feeding’, grooming and playing with the pet. If the interaction is not goal oriented, the user can explore the character of the pet and enjoy the feeling of building a relationship with it. Often these games use realistic visual effects or interaction to make the pet appear alive and give a sense of reality to users.

Digital pets can be “simulations of real animals, as in the Petz series” or “fantasy ones like the Tamagotchi”. Unlike biological simulations, the pet does not usually reproduce. They generally do not die.

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