November 24, 2004


by Andrew Stern · , 4:01 pm

Finally, a fresh take on the concept of direct interaction with virtual pets, something I’m pretty familiar with :-) . I’ve been waiting almost 10 years now for something new in this space, since a group of us at PF.Magic initially released Dogz and Catz in the mid-1990’s.

New for the Nintendo DS, a dual-touchscreen handheld game machine, comes Nintendogs. Check out this impressive flash movie demonstrating it. Here’s a little bit of discussion about it so far.

(via Intelligent Artifice)

37 Responses to “Nintendogs”

  1. Ian Bogost Says:

    Fantastic! Andrew, it must be great to see an homage to your work.

    BTW, the DS is amazing. Right now the available titles are few, but Feel the Magic is worth it alone. Mario 64 DS also has a number of new minigames that use the touch-screen.

    It’s interesting that the DS feels like the first real use of touchscreens for games. The Palm has been around for over a decade… interesting that nobody exploited the affordances of touch on that platform. I’ve written games for the Palm and it’s a well documented, publicly available, and best of all free (that is, no license fees like Nintendo) platform. What happened?

  2. Ian Wilson Says:

    From the TV commercials in Japan the DS is being aimed squarely at 20 – 30 something females. Of course the usual gamers are all over it anyway but it is the first time I have seen a platform being so heavily targeted at this market. This is where you guys come into play.

    I am sure you have had many discussions here about why this market is under represented but I think one of the central problems is that the kind of experience this market enjoys is technically beyond most game companies at the moment (and I dont mean to say they are not capable of it but that there is a ver steep learning curve to first negotiate). I am sure Andrew can tell you how hard pet/baby simulation is and the killer app, in my mind, will be drama / narrative type experiences like Facade.

    On the bright side, that Nintendo is putting its marketing muscle behind this market is a positive note that will mean new opportunities available that would not otherwise have been viable.

    Having said all that I am not sure how well the DS will fare against cell phones (in Japan at least) when they have 500k plus download abilities, broadband, 3D Java and every 20 – 30 something already has one and will be upgrading soon.

    Andrew, how about j2ME “Toddlers” with a simple narrative engine ;) ?


  3. nowak Says:

    That “discussion” is mind-numbing.

    As for touch-screen gaming. Yes, it’s been around. On the Palm. On the PC (I play many an online Flash game on my tablet). For a lot of games it works great. But, there hasn’t been a touchscreen system that specifically targetted game developers and focused almost exclusively on game content.

    I’m sure there are many Palm games that make good use of the stylus, but nobody buys a Palm for the games.

  4. Frasca Says:

    Cute. Little puppies! I am sooo glad that this game is coming out to the DS. Toy-like simulation is definitevely a genre that needs further exploration. I am really curious to see how this one plays (I was a fan of Dogz as you know, Andrew). Here’s a link (In Japanese) to the official Nintendogs page. If you click on the bottom DS graphic, a gallery pops up. Again, it’s all in Japanese, but at least you get an idea of what the interface looks like. I am sooooooo looking forward to Nintendogs!

  5. bandersnatch Says:

    Oddly enough, I found them kinda creepy.

    Let me explain. I have always wondered at the human mind’s ability to get emotionally invested in characters it knows to be fictional. In fact I believe there is something almost perverse in that ability. Some bizarre puritan streak of mine, I guess.

    (Of course, this is just idle philosophizing. Please don’t picture me at a theater’s entrance, shouting “Don’t enter here! They don’t exist, they don’t deserve your sympathy!” to the masses)

    The framing device of a “story” acts as a kind of protection barrier, however. But when you add true interactivity to the mix, or even worse, dispense with the story altogether and go for pure simulation (like with those puppies) that barrier breaks down. If you see them as part of a game, they are awesome. If you see them as a replacement for a flesh-and-blood pet, they are creepy.

    Here is another example, culled from a role-playing game discussion board:

    “I must be a complete nutcase. I’ve been digging so deep into the NPC that is Heather Poe, that I have become immensely depressed. I can no longer stand having her die, nor can I send her away. So I did the only thing I could do. I uninstalled the game while she was still alive, and I put it on a shelf to gather dust.”

    Like I said: creepy !

  6. andrew Says:

    On the topics of getting emotionally invested with virtual characters, and more on direct interaction, you might find this 1999 paper useful, as well as these discussions — at GTxA, at Terra Nova — from last February.

    Ian W, the idea of Toddlerz sounds great! I’d love to work on that. If PF.Magic had stayed around its existing form (instead of kind of dissolving once it got folded into Mattel in 2000), we may have gotten the chance to make Babyz II: Toddlerz. But then again, that would have distracted me from working on Facade, so…

    Ian B, I think the touchscreen in combination with the portableness makes for a particularly good virtual pet platform. You can combine the best features of Dogz and Tamagotchi.

  7. Alex Says:

    Whoa! You worked at PF Magic?

    That’s awesome. What’s the team doing these days? It’s a shame that a lot of the Petz pages have gone down… :(

    I miss Oddballz. :)

  8. Alex Says:

    And I just noticed that you’re at Georgia Tech. Wasn’t PFMagic in California?

    I’m here at UGA, so I’m not too far away.

    You wouldn’t happen to have some copies of Petz 5 from your time at PFMagic that I could take off of your hands, would you?

  9. andrew Says:

    Hi Alex — nice to hear from a loyal Petz / Oddballz fan. The Petz team in San Francisco disbanded in 1998, when PF.Magic got folded into The Learning Company (TLC). I stayed on for another year to make Babyz and consult on Petz 4; then that team disbanded when TLC got bought and chewed up by Mattel. The Petz license ended up at Ubisoft; Petz 5 was a mod of Petz 4 created by a separate team hired by Ubisoft (in fact Petz 4 was basically a mod of Petz 3).

    Regarding Georgia — this blog is hosted at Georgia Tech, but only one of us (Michael) is actually at Atlanta; I’m in Boston, moving to Portland, Oregon in about two weeks.

  10. rebecca Says:

    lol i still have babyz and catz 5 lol

  11. Anonymous Says:

    when does it come out in california

  12. andrew Says:

    Jane at gamegirladvance gives us an update on Nintendogs’ popularity.

    lol i still have babyz and catz 5 lol

    excellent! Glad to see that 6-7 year old software still has play.

    when does it come out in california

    I have no idea.

  13. Candice Says:

    Wow! Nintendogs is the cutest game yet! They act so real and look real too! They mark territories, go to the bathroom, and you can train them to do all kind of stuff with voice commands! You can also put them in dog contest and stuff.

    This game is a Must Have! I am definitely getting this one sice, I bought a DS for this game!

    Join my nintendogs fan club! Every member counts! If you are a true nintendogs fan then, you would sign up!

  14. Candice Says:

    Oops! I messed up on the website link! It is:

  15. Anonymous Says:

    IT STINKS!!!!!!!!!!

  16. Anonymous Says:


  17. andrew Says:

    Here’s an extensive review and analysis of Nintendogs at the blog Lost Garden. In the comments, Nintendogs and Petz are compared and contrasted a bit. (via Game Brains)

  18. Anonymous Says:

    Im going to get it! And a Nintendo DS, im a sucker for cute virtual pets

  19. Cathy Says:

    Hey! I just got a ds, and my first game of course….nintendogs! Being a female in my mid-twenties, I guess it was the obvious and stereotypical choice, but I love it. The thing is…I wish I could find someone with this cool bark mode. It seems that the ds is probably much cooler in major cities where its more densely populated, like Japan. It would be neat if I could find sites on the internet listing people looking for ds bark buddies! lol. If anyone’s in central NY…lol….

    My next anticipated game? Animal Crossing!! Anyone else a fan? These two games were why I got a ds.

  20. simone Says:

    hi i got nintendogs it is soooo cool and even more cool when you go in competions and get first place or 2nd or 3rd if any 1 has any cheats so they can help me please tell me thanx.

  21. Grand Text Auto » Link Dump Says:

    […] games / what-have-you, inspired or motivated by the history of videogames. Continuing our Nintendogs thread: a good essay analyzing the game-ness and explicit player rewards built […]

  22. Lukasz Says:

    I just got a DS, and i only got it for nintendogs!!! NINTENDOGS IS LIKE SOOOOOOO AWESOME, and cute :)

  23. Ashlyn Mcguiggan Says:

    I love nintendogs yes I do, I like Nintendogs how about you? NINTENDOGS ARE SOOOOOOOOOOOOO CUTE. THEY ROCK!!!!!!!

  24. The Linda Says:

    Hey! I just love my little pups, right now I have one Sheltie that I really love. And he loves me. CanĀ“t you make a webbsite fora puppies owner? A sait that everyone who have a puppy can be a member and talk about their dogs? It would be just perfect, and I want to show everybody how lucky my pup is…

    Love Linda

  25. Grand Text Auto » Aibo To Be Put Down Says:

    […] ease in 1999, I would have thought more. Then again, it cost $2000. Clearly virtual pets continue to have the power to fascinate and generate serious revenue. Maybe Sony has a ne […]

  26. kelly Says:

    I think its asome my friend go a rare dog

  27. Eleanor Says:

    I was fascinated by the nintendogs, it looked so advanced and high-tech! Being a fan of Dogz 5, the new real life graphics were stunning. My favourite breed on the game is the Siberian Huskey, they’re fab! I also like the Golden Retrievers and the Beagles. Archie, my Siberian Huskey competes in the Agility competions, Lucky, my Golden Retriever competes in the disc throwing and Jack, my Beagle competes in obedience. NINTENDOGS IS DA BEST!!!!!!!!:):):):):)

  28. Brianna Says:

    Hi, just dropping by to say—I love this game! Who agrees??

    Anyways, I was just wondering if someone could help me, I have Nintendos: Dashchund & Friends, and I have tried Bark Mode several times. I waited about 20 minutes (maybe more) for it to find me a match, and no such luck! I had to end the search because I wanted to play wiht my dog again.

    Has anyone had luck with bark mode? Help me!
    If you have can you tell me how long it took to match you up with someone? Well, thanls!

  29. brianna Says:

    hi im morgan im writing about your last comment on tha page well…. u need two people to do bark mode and they must be close by about 2 km then it should work fine! :)

  30. samuel Says:

    iv you no how to bred a dogb on nintendogs ples teel me on my msn

  31. corey Says:

    i find nintendogs a great game also has anyone here got a house in outer space and is an nintendogs master in trainer points (i have 9999!)

  32. corey Says:

    also that number 15 has a bad taste for games i man OMG its the man with no game smarts oh and if your’e gonna write it stinks in big letters be brave enough to put yor name down !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! also andrew dont cmplain about me that 15 is just a ^&%$
    dont ask what that means

  33. vivian Says:

    I absolutely love nintendogs!!! now, SOME people may this and not mean it, but i truly, honestly do.

  34. nintendogsluva Says:

    Hi Nintendogs fans! How much do YOU luv nintendogs? I love the game, I was so pleased when my best friend showed me how it works. After a long period of wondering, I eventually chose my puppies. I have the dalmatians version, and the only dogs I think are suitable are the dalmatians, yorkies, beagles and goldens. I don’t like the boxers or shepherds. So, first I got jasper, my dalmatian. After winning a few contests, I brought my beagle Coco. I would not give them up for the world.

    I need a bit more cash though, as i do only have about $100…
    nintendogsluva xxx

  35. Paige Says:

    I am going to keep my status on this site k?thanx.

    Dogs:Shit-zu (Fuz)female, dalmation (Lucky)male, boxer (Princess)female

    Fuz:obiedience trials,Lucky: obiedience trials,Princess: obiedience trials

    current money status:$479.00

  36. Hailey Says:

    my nintendog daisy is soooo cute i have the chihauhau and friends game she is a cavelier king charles spaniel her color is brown and white!

  37. Hailey Says:

    i need to check on my daisy soon i wonder what shes doin

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