Real Pets vs. Digital Pets
Do you remember Tamagotchi? First sold in Japan by Bandai in 1996, the tiny handheld device allowed kids to hatch their very own digital pets and raise them. With the press of a button, you could feed your pet, play with it, clean up its "accidents" and give it medicine when it got sick. Failure to respond to your little egg-shaped overlord's needs usually resulted in its death, leading many schools to ban the device when children became more preoccupied with it than with their work. Despite the risk of lower grades, however, some adults felt that digital pets could provide valuable education and experience in pet ownership for children, or even for adults who want to test their resolve before adopting a living pet. And as technology has improved, digital pets have become even more interactive and realistic. With the launch of Kinect and Move, Microsoft and Sony have both released motion-controlled pet simulators that promise you a "new member of the family." But how do they really measure up to the real thing?
WINNER: Real Pets
Sure, digital pets have their upside. They're relatively cheap, low-maintenance, easy to train and play with, and you never have to worry about them chewing through the household furniture (my family once lost two couches and a dining room table to a golden retriever). But there's just no substitute for the love, loyalty and companionship of a real pet. At least not until the Japanese manage to create a replicant dog indistinguishable from the real thing and usher in the Blade Runner-esque future we all know is coming.