This Game Looks at the Wonderful Absurdity of Virtual Pets

'Batty' is a virtual pet game that pokes fun at the entire enterprise.
All images captured by editor

Digital pets are the strangest thing. From Tamagotchi to Nintendogs, there is something fundamentally weird about creating a fake little animal that we are meant to generate an emotional connection to. It gets even more out there, though, because we do get attached to them. Feeding, playing with, and cleaning up the poop of digital animals are all activities that can work their way into our lives in meaningful and serious ways.

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Batty is a digital game about a digital pet. Modeled about those wonderful Tamagotchis, Batty is a little bat creature who lives inside of the device. Do you want to play a game with Batty? You can do that! Eventually, though, curiosity might get the better of you. The commands at the bottom, like "talk" and "play," are accompanied by "hit."

Batty only takes a few minutes to play, but the way that it ends reminds me quite a lot of this Jenn Frank piece about how she ended up playing the game Creatures. Batty playfully asks us about how much responsibility we have toward our digital pets, and the silly ending of the game suggests our own conscience might not be enough.

After all, every digital pet I have ever had has died. I've forgotten about them, or I became bored with the game, and the creatures went out like a light. This could be delivered in a somber, horrible way (and that would be my personal direction as a designer), but creator Dayton McKay goes in a more lighthearted direction. That direction means that the game is sort of laughing at us while pointing a stern finger at the same time, and that's a welcome way of making an argument.

You can Batty in a browser over at itch.io.