Virtual Pet Collecting - The Lost Memories
Around the ages of 9-14, I considered myself a "virtual pet collector". I don't know if that's an actual title to some people, but it's what I dubbed myself as, so let's just...roll with it, lol. This meant I basically tried every virtual pet game I came across--from PC to browser games, I wanted to play it. The Petz games, Neopets, Tamagotchi...I tried all of it. I never really managed to get very far in most of these games (probably because I was attempting to play all of them at the same time) but I really liked animals in real life, so of course I would want to own as many virtual animals as I could, right? Anyways, in this series of articles (yes, it's going to be a series because I have so much damn content) I'm going to be covering all of my memories of online virtual pet games--from big names like Neopets, to obscure flash games that probably disappeared after the early 2000s. Here I'll be attempting to uncover my most obscure memories of smaller games that I played in my earliest days!
One of the first games I ever played was called AdoptMe. It was a simple flash website that allowed you to "adopt" a pet, ranging from a variety of animals, and play little games with it. One of my friend's at school introduced it to me when we were about 10. The game was aimed at young children, so it was a bit simple and repetitive for my age...but it was cute for what it was. As far as I could tell, there was a currency system but no actual way to make more money once you spent it (I couldn't even find a place to put in your credit card for possible microtransactions), so the game was basically more like a little storybook for children to click around watch the animations. You could take your pet to the vet, to the gym (???), put it in a talent show, watch it sleep and bathe itself in your house, etc.
There were a lot of similarly simple little games I played--a lot of them were awful, but I write it off as it was probably just some independent programmer's experiment that wasn't meant to be played so seriously. There was one I played that allowed you to adopt a dog, feed it, take it for walks--but all of the dog were grainy, real-life photos of dogs badly photoshopped onto cartoon backgrounds. All of the NPCs you could interact with were also photos of real-life people, with little speech bubbles with text popping up when you clicked them...it was kind of janky and surreal, and your dog couldn't do much but "eat" and "poop" because there was no animation...There was also a game where you could adopt a camel. The virtual currency was "dates" (like...the fruit) and your goal was to collect more humps for your camel. I'm not sure if I was just stupid or what, but I couldn't figure out how to collect any more dates...So finally, exhausted, I went to their forums and furiously demanded "HOW DO I GET ANY DATES??" Hahaha. I wish I could remember the reaction I got!
I have really fond memories of a specific virtual pet game that was also connected to a real life charity of some sort--I can't remember which one it was exactly, but it was definitely something related to animals. The main concept was that you would adopt a pet, feed it, dress it in clothes, play flash games for currency to spend on items, etc. while also befriending other users on the site. The more friends you added to your profile, a certain amount of money would be donated to the charity. (Or something like that, my memory could be failing me) So the community there was really friendly and encouraged interaction with others. The profiles were set up similar to a myspace profile, with your pet where your photo would be, so it was easy to have a conversation back and forth on it. I made so many friends that later followed me on Deviantart in my early teens thanks to the community on this site...It was a lot of fun! My friends and I wasted all of our available computer time on this game when we were in summer camp once...But I can't remember the name of it for the life of me! I believe it began with a "Z"--I've tried googling all kinds of things, like "Zoopets", "Zupets", but I can't seem to find anything related to what I can remember. (If anyone has any idea what I'm talking about, feel free to hit me up in my guestbook or on my Neocities profile!)
Random Catz gif because this page is getting boring with no images, lol.
So those are some of my oldest and more obscure memories from my virtual pet days. It seems that the virtual pet idea is not nearly as much of a "cool thing" anymore--but that could just be because I'm out of the age bracket for that sort of thing, and most games are becoming phone apps now anyways. Back then it was sort of fun, because literally so many new games were popping up because of the success of Neopets. Not of all them were good, but it was fun to have so many options.