Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
A digital pet, also known as a virtual pet, is a type of artificial human companion: a simple computer designed to simulate a pet. The computer is usually housed in a small, egg-shaped plastic container, and the image of the "pet" is displayed on a simple black and white screen. Three or four buttons allow the user to perform different tasks, such as feed the pet, play games with it, or wash it. When the pet is unsatisfied, it beeps.
More recently, virtual pet websites, such as the popular Neopets and Powerpets, have been created. These sites are generally free and accessible to all who sign up. They can be accessed on a regular computer and often even have a virtual community set up, such as the planet Neopia in Neopets and the cities of Powerpets (a main city being New Barkston). In these cities, you can play games to earn virtual money; which is usually spent on items and food for your pets or for rare items.
The user's "goal" in maintaining the digital pet is to keep the virtual animal alive as long as possible, and in most models, to make it grow into the best "adult" form. In order to keep the pet alive and growing the owner needs to feed, groom and play with the pet. The two most popular digital pet brands are Tamagotchi and its many spinoffs, and Neopets. There is also a popular program for the PC known as Petz.
Digital pets created a massive fad in Japan, where they originated, and to a lesser extent in the United States during the late 1990s. The idea of an actual animal composed of technology rather than flesh also inspired a number of anime, such as Digimon (itself a contraction of "Digital Monster").
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details