Who wouldn't want to own a real puppy? They're cute, they're cuddly and best of all they're always pleased to see you. But owning a pet just isn't a realistic option for many people, either for practical or financial reasons. The thought of 'walkies' every morning and evening doesn't always sit well with modern lifestyles.
But the life skills that can be learnt from looking after a pet can be crucial to human physical and creative development which is why "nintendogs", a new dog rearing game on the Nintendo DS, has caused such a stir in Japan and is set to do the same in the UK when it bounds into the country on 7th October. But is there any science behind the gameplay? Relationship psychologist Susan Quilliam has reviewed the implications of the virtual puppy and found that it can not only help develop our attention spans and motor skills, but also improves our ability to solve problems and think creatively
The "nintendogs" concept is easily grasped - you're responsible for a pet, and must offer regular food, exercise and entertainment if you want to keep it happy (however, the good news is that the pet never dies). Susan Quilliam found that the game teaches us how to bond and provides us with a sense of nurture and responsibility. But it can also have emotional effects, helping to raise self-esteem and develop strategic thinking. This is supported by research to coincide with the report, which reveals that nearly half of parents believe that owning a pet can teach the owner about a variety of emotions.
The survey asked dog lovers what they think are the positive benefits of a virtual pet. Forty three (43) per cent said lower vet bills (!), 39 per cent said it was because they wouldn't have to go for a daily walk and 35 per cent thought it would be tidier. Is it finally time to replace your household pet with a virtual one?
What is 'nintendogs"?
Available exclusively for the Nintendo DS handheld console, "nintendogs" is a brand new way to play and develops the concept of the virtual pet by adding a whole new dimension of interaction. Players can actually touch and speak to their dog which, will in turn react realistically to this attention. This interaction is unlike any other seen before on a games console. "nintendogs" is an ideal pet for people who can't own a real dog, it makes no mess, will never die and definitely won't moult all over your sofa!
"nintendogs" will come in three different packages - Labrador Retriever, Miniature Dachshund and Chihuahua - each with six different breeds of puppies to begin with, giving a total of eighteen breeds to choose. Each breed will have a litter of three different puppies to choose from, giving players a chance to pick the sex and characteristics of their puppy.
Since its launch in Japan, the Japanese have been going barking mad for "nintendogs". Not only do the media love it, but the general public can't get enough either - so much so that sales of the Nintendo DS console have rocketed to five times the average amount during the nintendogs launch week. It could be the best Â£30 you've ever spent.