Whenever people think about virtual worlds in video games the most common associations are with games such as Second Life or World of Warcraft or maybe even the Sims (though this one is not a multiplayer game). However, when I think of virtual worlds, I think of a much simpler game, which due to its graphics could be deemed as a more childish game. You might be thinking that I am talking about the widely popular game Club Penguin, but though I enjoyed it, the game I have in mind is Pet Society.
The game is not running anymore, so for those of you who are not acquitted with this game, it could be played through Facebook. The game consisted of you creating a pet avatar which you could customize to your liking. The pet had its own home which could also be customized and lived in a town where it would interact with the pets of your Facebook friends. To customize your game, you needed coins. Those coins could be gained through a myriad of actions such as visiting your friends, winning races against your friends, playing the lottery or simply by taking care of your pet’s hygiene.
“if you didn’t have Pet Society, you were a nobody”.
This game was simple, nonetheless, I remember being so drawn to it. Between the years 2009 and 2010 the game was everything to me and my classmates. I remember vividly one of my friends saying that “if you didn’t have Pet Society, you were a nobody”. I probably took those words way too seriously back then, but how could I resist? For a few years, this was the it game among us who were then preteens.
Thinking about this game’s popularity, I do not think that it is an alienated phenomenon. The interest in taking care of virtual pets had been prevalent for many years with games such as Neopets, Club Penguin and maybe even Tamagotchi (though this one was not an online game). Even today, the interest in this kind of games is still relevant, with Animal Crossing being one of the most popular games of 2020.
I will never fully understand why was it that this game captivated me the way it did. Perhaps it was the peer pressure to play it. Or maybe it was the intrinsic nature of taking care of a virtual pet that makes it so appealing. Even if I could not explain why this game was so special to me, one thing is clear and that is that it will always hold a level of nostalgia for me. After all, this game is the sole reason as to why I created my Facebook account and I think that somehow that makes it a special memory to me.