Thursday, July 05, 2007

Emotionally Involved with My Virtual Pet

So my dear sweet Hubbs, in a bid to get me more involved in Nintendo DS gaming, got me the game "Nintendogs." For those of you who are as blissfully unaware as I was, it's a virtual pet game where you can buy a pet puppy, feed and wash it, teach it tricks and enter trick competitions, and take it for walks in the virtual world of your DS.

I decided to give the game a go so that Hubbs' efforts wouldn't be wasted. I got myself a cute male Shih-Tzu named Duncan and started doing the basic things with this dog, like feeding and petting it. A mere 5 days into gaming, my mind has gone to mush and I am taking the game far too seriously. I religiously feed, water, and walk my pup, and when Hubbs is even mildly abusive to his virtual doggie I get screaming mad. He's not allowed to touch mine, either.

So what is it about these virtual animal/pet games that gets people so emotionally involved? I mean, I remember the days of Tamagotchi and how these young girls would cry or get downright suicidal if their digital pet got sick or died. Keep in mind, the Tamagotchi display was a simple nearly black-and-gray image. It wasn't entirely interactive and most certainly wasn't convincing in its look and feel. My Nintendog, however, looks like a dog and acts like a dog and is absolutely adorable (and interactive).

Yeah, I know; they're cute. Hubbs has a pug and I have the Shih-Tzu. But wait...what am I saying?! They aren't real! I am an educated adult, damnit! I know that this is not a real dog, but the end product of some very fine code and graphic design. So why am I getting attached to my virtual pup and speaking of it as though I had a pet? The psychology behind it is a little hard to understand, and possibly unhealthy, but I have yet to unlock the puzzle of my emotional attachment to this game. Until I do so, however, I will keep feeding and walking and caring for my "pet."

Thankfully in Nintendogs, neglected pets just run away. I think I would lose my mind if Duncan died. :(


Natalie said...

I was the same way with my SIMS and the pets that the SIMS had. I haven't got the pet expansion pack for SIMS2 and one of the reasons is that I would end up obsessed. Sometimes you just have to walk away.

Wobbly*Bits said...

Maybe that's a pet I could offer a forever home to!

Mrs. Loquacious said...

Nat - I wish I could walk away, but my cute virtual puppy Duncan needs me, and of course I am too proud to fail by neglecting him and forcing him to run away.

Wobbly - Yes, apparently the Nintendog runs away after a LOT of neglect, but will come back to try to win you over with his cuteness again. So this is definitely a possible forever-pet that costs less than a real dog (although you might miss not having the wet tail-wagging licks from a real pet).