A generation of children who cared for digital pets and beings is embracing the next iteration of digital care, raising virtual pets and eventually virtual children as well.

Catriona Campbell, an artificial intelligence expert from the UK, predicts that virtual children will exist in the metaverse within the next 50 years. Campbell believes that the technology that evolves to create these virtual newborns will be embraced by a group who grew up caring for a popular 1990s pet toy: the Tamagotchi generation. She predicts that these virtual children will look like their “parents” and be able to play and interact from within their digital habitat. In an age where many younger generations are reconsidering having families of their own, this outlet might attract a new generation of digital caretakers.

For consumers looking to find connection in the virtual realm, the Petaverse is here: a platform developed by Polygon where NFT cats will be minted and purchased starting this summer. The Petaverse Network aims to become the first cross-chain platform for digital pets in order to reach a broader audience in a gamified NFT experience that fosters emotional connection and delivers true digital pet ownership.

WEB digita dogs
The Digital Pets Company, courtesy of Twitter

The Digital Pets Company, developer of digital 3D dogs, announced that it would launch AI-driven canines as new companions in the metaverse. Authenticated as NFTs, the company is confident that this metaverse evolution of Nintendogs will be a success for digital pet-lovers. Owners will be able to interact with, play, and care for their digi-dogs across virtual reality worlds, mixed and augmented reality platforms, and mobile and web browsers.

Developers in the metaverse view digital pet stores as a means to sell the metaverse to the masses. Peter Allen Clark broke down the way virtual pets have introduced a slew of new technology to younger consumers over the decades for Axios: Tamagotchis put portable gadgets into young gamers’ hands in the 90’s; Neopets introduced website gaming and navigation just a few years later; and Nintendogs, The Sims, Farmville and more provided interactive platforms for care and nurturing in the following years.

Major tech brands are paying attention to the call for such realistic and life-like interactive digital spaces. Niantic has its eyes on developing a “real world metaverse,” CEO and founder John Hanke stated in a blog post last year. The company plans to build out living, persistent maps for life-like engagement and interaction in the coming years.

What do all of these examples have in common? They all forge an intimate emotional attachment to a digital being. Players must log on, feed, clean, play with and care for their virtual companions in order to keep them alive and well. The start of these digital families indicates a growing overlap between our physical and virtual lives.

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