Pets that reside in Cyberspace
Owning a pet is a joyful experience, unless you have allergies. For those who are allergic to animal dander, owning a pet would be a nightmare of constant sneezing, coughing and itchy eyes. Luckily, there is a fun alternative to owning a live animal.
Virtual pets (also known as cyber pets) are simple computer programs that simulate what it's like to own a live pet, complete with tasks you must perform such as feeding it and make sure it gets enough exercise. Most virtual pets "live" in small, self-contained plastic units, but there are also computer pets that exist entirely on the Internet. Virtual pets can be representations of real animals (such as the popular Petz series of virtual pets) or fantasy creatures (such as the Tamagotchi collection).
Even people who don't have allergies can experience the fun of owning a virtual pet. In fact, many parents give their children a virtual pet as a way of allowing them to prove that they are ready for the responsibility of caring for a live pet. Virtual pet adoption is much easier than adopting a real pet. There are no forms to fill out and no waiting lists. Instead, you just go to the toy store and pick out the virtual pet you want.
In the case of virtual online pets, you don't even need to go to a store; you just boot up your computer and visit a website that offers online pets. Unlike with live pets, there are no further purchases necessary (which means that you get to avoid buying some of the less appealing pet products, such as cat litter).
One of the most popular brands of virtual pets online is Neopets. Neopets are Web-based pets that live in an online world called Neopia. Users can own up to four pets and can determine how they interact with their virtual environment. The currency of Neopia is Neopoints and Neopet owners can earn Nepoints by accomplishing various tasks. For a monthly fee, owners can unlock several additional features.
On the surface, a Webkinz stuffed animal appears to be no different than any of the other stuffed animals on store shelves. However, every Webkinz toy comes with a special code that allows its owner to log in to a site called Webkinz World where he or she can adopt and interact with a computer representation of the toy. This has proved to be extremely popular and Webkinz is a leader in the virtual pets market.
If you want to get a virtual pet of your own, the information above can help you get started. But remember, virtual pets can get addictive. Before you know it, you may find yourself the proud owner of a whole flock of virtual critters.