What’re virtual pets?

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Virtual pets are digital animals that can be found on websites or as standalone computer programs. They can be fed, walked, and played with, and some even have needs that must be met. Some virtual pets exist on LCD screens and can be challenging. They can be lifelike and even die, but they are primarily a substitute for video games that work on nurturing skills.

Virtual pets are animals that exist only in chips and pixels. Pets such as cats and dogs or unique imaginary creatures can be recognized. While they aren’t warm and fuzzy, they can be just as demanding as the real thing.

A style of virtual pet exists on a computer. Some virtual pets can be found on websites while others are standalone computer programs. If you are selecting a virtual pet from a website, go through a list of possibilities and claim one as your own. In some cases, that’s the end of the process and you have a pet that you can post on your website or otherwise display.

Other websites and most self-contained programs require your continued involvement after selecting a pet. You can feed, walk, pet and play with your virtual pet by clicking the buttons. Your pet reacts appropriately to your choices and will sometimes perform activities such as sleeping alone according to internal programming. It can also show needs that you then have to meet. If your pet looks sad, is it because he’s hungry or wants to play?

Another style of virtual pet “lives” in a self-contained toy, which appears on an LCD screen. The concept is very similar to computer-based virtual pets. Instead of clicking through options for your pet, you press several small buttons to choose from a menu of selections. These types of virtual pets can be much more challenging than computer-based ones. While you can always close the website or program, standalone toys generally cannot be turned off. You have to meet your pet’s needs at all hours of the day and night, and they will often make noises to let you know it’s time to take care of them. Not surprisingly, many users quickly get tired of these requests.

Virtual pets can be startlingly lifelike, with needs and actions that are realistic. In fact, virtual pets can even die. While some may see virtual pets as a substitute for the real thing, they’re primarily a video game substitute that works on nurturing skills rather than reflexes.

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