A digital pet
also known as a Virtual Pet
is a simple computer
designed to simulate a pet
. The computer is usually housed in a small, egg-shaped plastic container, and the image of the "pet" is displayed on a simple black and white
screen. Three or four buttons allow the user to perform different tasks, such as feed the pet, play games with it, or wash it. When the pet is unsatisfied, it beeps.
The user's "goal" in maintaining the digital pet is to keep the virtual animal alive as long as possible, and in most models, to make it grow into the best "adult" form.
The two most popular digital pet brands were Tamagotchi and Neopets.
Digital pets created a massive fad in Japan, where they originated, and to a lesser extent in the United States during the late 1990s.