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Are virtual pets "games"? Or pet-shaped toys?


Jen Shikami
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Would you consider virtual pets to be "games"?

What kind of aspects would a virtual pet have to have for it to qualify as a game? I'd love to hear what you think. I'd say at a minimum, they need to have some kind of way to make progress. Breeding, growing, or something. Otherwise they're more like virtual toys than games.

Personally, for meeroos, horses, etc. I think these would qualify as games, in the oldschool Tamagotchi sense. They're more like a casual maintenance game like you would see on Facebook (____Ville) or a smartphone app.

For a different kind of example, the fish we make for 7Seas are "pets" in the sense that they're animal-shaped, nameable, and a couple are sort of breedable so you can earn breeding points. But compared to the others, I don't think our version of pets is as much of a game in and of themselves. So they're probably more like pet-themed toys.

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A game implies things like win states, fail states, rules to figure out, and other interactive elements. Pet raising and breeding definitely fall in there, as they're questions of resource allocation, with the player trying to figure out how best to maintain the pet. Throw in a levelling curve of some sort and you've definitely got a game in play.

Of course, there stands Ye Great Potentiale for Evile, with pets. Because in real life, pets die (a harsh fail state) and pets need to be fed (a constant, ongoing resource allocation issue). Virtual pets that must be replenished perpetually lest they expire forever -- particularly when yoked to a feeding mechanism that indirectly translates to "Feed me L$!" -- that's not my bag at all. The only winning move is not to play, etc.

With a good game design, however, a pet can be an enjoyable and rewarding game experience onto itself.

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To me, the concept of "game" involves strategies, rules, goals ...

 

I breed breedable animals and I am also a 7Seas player. I have bred Ozimals, Amaretto and many others - I would consider these to be games. I also catch fish using7Seas and, although I would classify the fishing process as a game, I would name the fish (and breedable fish) simply as prizes or rewards in that game.

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Bands of Cypher team has done a great job in bridging the gap between virtual pets and games. The game itself is a mysterious portal to another dimension. You have to balance the 5 elements and then the gateway to another world opens up like a star gate. An adorable creature from another dimension reaches out to you and so the game begins..

The pets are called Yumi pets and require no upkeep no food etc and it also has a solid reward system.

You can check em out at http://www.facebook.com/bandsofcypher to follow

 

CTR - Cozy Yumi Winterbag.jpg

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