SIOUX CITY | Nothing beats having a live pet as a companion, but sometimes due to allergies, housing or difficult schedules, it just isn’t possible.
That’s why different video game platforms such as PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo have made video games that revolve around taking care of a virtual pet.
The concept goes back to Tamagotchi pets from the mid-1990s. Tamagotchi originated in Japan and were small, egg-shaped keychain simple video games that revolved around an animal the user had to raise and keep alive. The games were also popular in the United States.
Today, the concept has expanded exponentially and has become much more sophisticated, said Sioux City GameStop manager Brent Miller.
“You literally have a pet that you take care of in real time,” he said.
Miller discussed various games on different platforms that could appeal to various demographics.
Nintendo, which tends to cater to a younger crowd, has the largest selection of animal-based video games, with games focusing on raising dogs, cats, hamsters and endangered species, in addition to taking care of a farm and being a veterinarian.
Xbox 360 features Kinectimals, a game that allows the user to raise wild cats. Using a motion sensor bar, players can move in front of their television to interact with the animal such as feeding, playing with and raising the cub.
The game, which was developed by Frontier Developments and published by Microsoft Game Studios, has been well received by the gaming community.
EyePet for the PlayStation 3 features gremlin-like monkey animals that players can interact with using motion sensing technology, much like the Xbox 360. The animals react to the user clapping and tickling it, as well.
The game, developed by SCE London Studio and published by Sony Computer Entertainment, was not as well received as its Xbox 360 counterpart because it was seen as clumsier by some in the motion sensing, but it was still considered a big step forward.
Computer games are also taking part in the pet trend with various versions of The Sims that feature pets. Players can customize different pets and allow them to interact with each other. Dogs, cats and horses are featured in the games. The game was developed by EA Play/The Sims Studio and published by Electronic Arts. It was received with positive reviews by the gaming community.
Miller noted there are several more animal-based games offered by each video game company, as well.
He said that parents will often come into GameStop looking for pet-related games to test their children’s level of responsibility.
“Parents will come in looking for the games so they can see how their kids will take care of a pet before they get the real thing,” he said.
Miller said he and his wife, who works at Petco, have owned just about every type of animal at some point and a lot of the games are fairly realistic.
“We played the hamster one and you feed them and chase them around their cage,” he said. “It’s a lot like a real hamster.”
He noted the demographic is often for the younger children, although parents often find themselves getting addicted to the games.
“It’s for young and old, but primarily for when kids learn how to play games, like 3 or 4 up to about 9,” he said. “When they get to be in the teens they are moving on.”