It’s a very interesting review of the games design of Nintendogs. The review explains that Nintendogs is more game-like than people have been saying, it bearing many similarities to RPGs, in fact.
You know, ever since I heard about Nintendogs getting a perfect score in Famitsu, a feat that reportedly only three other games have ever accomplished in the history of the respected games mag (I don’t know which games, so don’t ask), I knew that part of the reason is because of the cultural context of the game; what Danc calls the “game anthropology”.
Many Japanese people live in cities, which is prohibitive to keeping pets. Many Japanese people also lack the time to raise a live pet. Many Japanese people would like to experience having a pet. Having a virtual puppy like the one you can have in Nintendogs fulfills this desire. Also: no cleaning up pee and shit, no requirements to take it out for walkies, and no problems from animal control if you neglect it. Good times all round.