Hacking the Virtual Pet by MiLtRoNi When my daughter got her first "Virtual Pet," I thought that is was a fine thing. However days later, when I found myself at home alone with it, it started to "chirp" (it's a cat), demanding "Virtual Food" from me. The minutes ticked by as I tried to ignore it and its cries for help. What kind of father was I as this was my daughter's toy, her creation as it were? She had carefully cared for it and bathed it and played with it and disciplined it when needed, and I just would let it die! I picked it up, read the directions, and soon gave it food and a nap. All was good for a while but "Liz" the Virtual Pet passed away after three days. So did "Liz 2" and "Liz 3" and "Liz 4." My daughter grew tired of "Virtual Pets." It was horrifying to watch "Liz 4" actually die in her hands. The "Pet" soon found its way into the drawer to let its batteries slowly fade away, in a sort of "Virtual Limbo." Weeks later I found some time on my hands and decided to "experiment" with "Lix X." I had to rename it many times, as it died over and over. Some lasted only minutes, some would last days. I would teach them the wrong tricks, and yes, I would even "punish" them for doing the tricks correctly. They were constantly overfed (ever see a cat that weighed 15 pounds less than two hours old?). They died so easily, and yet, would take so much abuse. I would feed on their paranoia by taking them to the "Vet" when all they demanded was to play. And they "demanded" to play always. It was a cold day in November when "Borg 5" was born. I knew that this one would be different. This was to be my final work. I was losing my my mind and I had to stop this madness soon. "Borg 5" was very cooperative, and I found that by resetting his internal clock to 11:59 PM, he would age a year in minutes. Within a short time he was five years old. He was kept happy by my feeding him treats as I waited for the "Re-occurring Midnight." After he was ten years old, I found I could just subtract the minutes and not go all the way around. "Borg 5" died at the age of 35 years old, weighing 100 pounds. He wouldn't gain any more weight and his "Health Meter" started to drop very quickly. He died in his sleep. Once my daughter found out, she was very interested and quickly learned how to manipulate the clock. From then on she would experiment with the "Little Frankenstein." Feeding would add 20 points. "Discipline" would add the same. However, feeding it treats added weight and kept it happy. You never had to "play" with it at all and if it showed a zero for happiness, it still lived. We even had one that we never fed at all, much to the disgust of my older child. All the kids in the neighborhood wanted to know how to apply this technology to their own "Virtual Pets" (dogs, turtles, etc.). It was almost too easy to tell them and they smiled as if to say, "Why didn't I think of that!" I could have charged them each a quarter. Now there are "Virtual Mutants" crawling everywhere. I feel that I have set free some sort of monster. Will some of these kids start to "work" on real animals? Have I opened the door for some veterinarian, or some sort of Dr. Jekyll? What would Mattel Corp. do if they knew that I "altered" their Billion Dollar Industry? Are the Men in Black outside the door? Maybe they should change the way of thinking. Maybe the 7-year-olds need more of a challenge than "Show me the blue triangle." type computer toys. After all, in the future, it's unlikely that some of the kids will be using computers.