Nintendogs + Cats for the 3DS is your typical pet sim. But for Jon Irwin, that’s exactly why it lacks the feeling of caring for a real pet:
What does it mean to love a fake version of a real thing? How do we become attached to, essentially, lines of code? I guess if you zoomed in close enough, even my beloved pet, the “real” Teddy, was nothing more than strands of DNA—no different from the strings of ones and zeros in my 3DS cartridge. But the animal reacts to your behavior: You praise her and she barks triumphant; ignore her and be consumed by expectant whimpering. Neglect a living creature and neglect a part of the breathing, changing world around you. Neglect a game and its circuitry gathers dust, the same whether it’s played for 80 hours or left to sit on a warehouse shelf.
Read the rest here.