Guffins: Adopt Your Own Virtual Pet

Cats, dogs, hamsters, horses, minks, monkeys, and bearded dragons make wonderful pets under the correct household circumstances, but sometimes we just want a furry friend that’s virtual. Online pets offer some advantages. We have little time to clean up literal litter boxes or take the adder for a walk. Life simply becomes too busy for real-world critters.

Should you wake up craving the attention and comfort of a creature, but lacking the motivation to leave the house and adopt one, consider adopting a happy Guffin as your own virtual friend. It’s fun. Many different Guffins are looking for homes  at select a pet that looks like fun and adopt it into your browser. The cute little creature will need some virtual attention from you, but you won’t have to take it to the animal doctor or purchase a pet-owner’s license.

It will never escape your desktop and ravage the new carpet. You’ll not find a dirty litter box in the basement. You won’t have to walk it every morning. You won’t have to walk it, ever.

How does it work?

There’s no need to drive to the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) to pick out your virtual friend. Simply point your browser at The good folks at Guffins have peppered the Internet with advertising for their site. They want everyone to get involved.

When you click the “Adopt a Pet” button on the home page, you’ll receive a small executable file called Guffins.exe. This file will install a program on your computer so you can get started with your first adoption.Based on the file name, Guffins.exe, we assume that there’s no Apple or Linux version of the program. The web site be be flexible enough to send you the proper file based on your operating system, but we didn’t test that possibility.

Keep in mind that any program downloaded from the Internet is a potential risk. You may be downloading a virus, spyware, or some other program that may end up making your life miserable. You may wish to scan the program with your anti-virus software and your anti-spyware software before executing it. A clean bill of health from your security utilities is no guarantee that you won’t be infected, but it’s better than nothing.

If you are logged on with administrative permissions, as most Windows users are, then this program will run with administrative permissions. Do so at your own risk.

The program you receive will come from a company named Mindspark Interactive Network and should be titled “Guffins.exe.”

Consider turning off these options during the installation process.
Consider turning off these options during the installation process.

During the installation process, you might want to uncheck the two options listed below. Leaving both selected will change your home page and your default search engine. This may not be considered spyware or malware, given that you ‘agreed’ to the changes. On the other hand, few users won’t be surprised when their browser begins behaving differently.

Your virtual pet will not be affected whether or not the options are selected. We ran our installation with both boxes unchecked, which is probably the choice that will be made by 99% of Guffin adopters who actually read the fine print. Very few people will want their home page changed by a Guffin.

After a brief download, the program will install. Expect a new toolbar to appear on your browser. If the toolbar isn’t visible, restart your browser program. Our toolbar didn’t appear until we restarted Firefox. Firefox has excellent add-in management: we are mostly confident that the program can be removed through the Firefox add-in management menu should we grow tired of our virtual pet.

We did not test the program with any other browsers. Internet Explorer is also popular, but we can’t say how well the Guffin adopt-a-pet system functions in that environment.

It’s time to adopt your first virtual pet. You don’t need to lay out newspaper or put a cage in the corner of the living room. Your pet will spend its’ entire virtual life on your computer screen. Pick out a pet that tugs at your heart strings. I picked the first little doggy that popped up because I couldn’t bear to leave it behind while I browsed the other pets.

Adopting a pet can be stressful because your heart tells you to pick the first set of sad little eyes that lock onto you. Walking through rows of kennels or cages means ignoring many deserving little furry friends. Selecting a Guffin is not as difficult: rest assured that your virtual friend doesn’t even exist until you pick him (her?) from the menu. No Guffins are harmed during the adoption process.

I picked this pet Guffin because it was the first one, and it looked like a Guffin I had as a child.
I picked this pet Guffin because it was the first one, and it looked like a Guffin I had as a child.
Proof of virtual pet ownership
Proof of virtual pet ownership

After your adoption is approved, you will receive a confirmation screen. Print a copy of it for proof of ownership, should your virtual pet get loose in the neighborhood. You don’t want to lose your virtual pet at the virtual animal shelter.

Just kidding.



Your virtual pet. Take good care of it.
Your virtual pet. Take good care of it.

Your virtual Guffin appears in a new window, ready to love you forever. You can do some cool stuff with it:

  • Play
  • Feed
  • Wash
  • Sleep
  • Change
  • Send



Each time you open your browser, the Guffin Toolbar loads. This toolbar provides instant access to your little friend. Simply click on View Pet to load your pet in a window inside your browser.

The Guffin Toolbar. Your virtual pet is always available.
The Guffin Toolbar. Your virtual pet is always available.

Your Guffin will get sick, tired, and filthy if you don’t provide proper care. As illustrated in the following screen shot, my Guffin began to deteriorate rather quickly, during Day 0 of our relationship. The poor thing was suffering needlessly because I didn’t attend to it immediately after adopting it.

Computer programmers are intimately familiar with counting from 0, but most people count from 1. In the world of Guffins, day 0 is actually your first day of virtual pet ownership.

Take care of your virtual pet, else it will become hungry, tired, and dirty.
Take care of your virtual pet, else it will become hungry, tired, and dirty.
The no-spyware assurance from your Guffin Friends.
The no-spyware assurance from your Guffin Friends.

The No-spyware Assurance

Here is the guarantee of no-spyware, as offered by the folks who gave you your Guffin. They promise not to spy on you, record your activity, or send you any pop-up ads. The Guffin program is mostly web-based, with a small add-in tacked onto your browser (we used Firefox) but the footprint is small and seems mostly harmless.There is some executable programming that runs on your computer, but as a part of your browser. When you download the original program to set your Guffin world, you are executing code that has the same permission level as you do.

You may not be able to adopt a Guffin at work or at school: Guffin activities are not recommended on computers in those environments: you could lose your job or your academic standing. A virtual pet is fun, but it’s not worth your career.

Save The Penguins

Please help: Save The Penguins

Innumerable problems beset this little blue marble we call home. Our Earth suffers from plagues and pestilences that would humble a lesser planet. Thanks to the Internet, we can make each other aware of what must be done to somehow preserve our biosphere. Many online resources exist solely to provide invaluable information pertaining to stuff that’s going to kill us or make our lives yucky.

Possibly the greatest threat to our modern lifestyle is the constant attack on our flightless friends, the penguins. Uncountable numbers of these harmless birds are massacred every day before breakfast. Experts expertly estimate that a dramatic decline in penguin populations may be a possible ancillary contributor to global warming, biodiversity food-chain disruption, and cat acne. No one knows what the future holds.

Many of these Penguin Punishments are Free

We lament the online treatment of Penguins. We concurrently wonder where the funding originates. Some one is paying for all these games: is there an anti-penguin conspiracy? is George Bush somehow involved? Most of the web sites we have identified do not even require an account of any kind. Anyone with a computer and an Internet connection can browse to these pages and begin penguin pummeling in a completely anonymous manner. No credit card or email address need be furnished. It’s all free. Free online games are usually a wonderful thing, but penguin repercussions must be considered.

Poking Penguins

Most biologists agree: leave a penguin alone and it won’t bother you. This horrifying video game actually encourages penguin poking, which as we all know is a leading cause of annoyed penguins and workplace injuries at work.

This game is deceptively simple to play: click on the penguin. Click, click, click, until the annoyed bird suffers a nervous breakdown and whams you with a mallet. It probably doesn’t have a license to carry the mallet. It certainly ends up as a burden on society after being forced to deal with its’ impulsive, albeit understandable, behavior. Precious few flightless birds have sufficient mental health insurance.

Please, find something else to do with your computer. Consider the consequences of your actions. Poking penguins can only lead to problematic penguins.

Penguin Dress-Up

This hapless penguin has been forced to conform to societal norms. Source:

Penguins come with well-fitted tuxedos as standard equipment. No biologist, zookeeper, or professional butler that we con

tacted had anything good to say about dressing penguins in people clothing. Imposing garments of  questionable fashion on innocent penguins is tantamount to stuffing a poodle into a cable-knit sweater. One can only speculate as to the damage that this ‘game’ has done to the image of life at the North Pole. Perhaps our children are growing up under the impression that penguins frequent frozen fashion malls to purchase modern accessories with cold hard cash. Hopefully it’s not too late to teach our children well: please get the word out before it’s too late.If you must dress up a penguin, take a few moments to peruse appropriate avian fashion magazines and web sites beforehand. Try to avoid unmatched accessories that will only serve to turn your target penguin into a playground pariah.

Penguin Lawine Surfer

We honestly don’t know what’s going on here.

Mashing penguins with big snowballs. Source:

Apparently, a cold-weather animal has developed snowball-building skills and concurrently acquired some extremely effective footwork. We can’t be sure which animal it is: it might be a maladjusted polar bear or a rogue elf. These traits add up to untimely death for hapless penguins.

In the interest of pure research we attempted to play the game. We were unable to determine what the goal was or what controls were available. Each time we played, the penguin was overwhelmed in short order by the ice ball. It always ended badly for the bird.

As with many free online penguin massacre games, this game is free to play and requires no validation whatsoever. Penguins can be bowled over until your Internet connection goes down or the library closes.

Would you do this to the family dog?

Please think twice about the impact you are having on the penguin ecosystem. A small semi-flightless bird might not seem like a big deal to you, but it has a Mommy and Daddy that desperately want it to waddle home at the end of the day.

YAGA – Yet Another Gaming Article

Over a minute has passed since a gaming article was published, hence we happily step into the breach. Game playing seems popular on the Interweb: combining Google and free online games appears to be a likely possibility for a generating a few hundred words combined into sentences.

In the interest of pure research, we propose composing a search phrase, submitting that phrase to a Major Internet Search Engine, and analyzing the results. This strategy rarely fails to provide engaging fodder.

Our search engine phrase shall be: free online google games. No quotes, no filters, no document restrictions or other decorations shall be submitted. We’ll observe what happens. Major Internet Search Engines rarely dissapoint, and we expect no disappointment to ensue here.

The object of our affection: a single page of search results from a Major Internet Search Engine

See all 10 photos
The object of our affection: a single page of search results from a Major Internet Search Engine


Wow, there are a lotta games out there

We suspect that more games exist than online game players, but that’s a topic for another thesis. Tens of thousands of time-killers present themselves to sentient but unwary humans. We cannot endorse linear methodologies obligating the execution of every free online game, but herein we present a pseudo-random sampling of a few titles.

In all honesty (implying that to this point we have not acted honestly?) we selected our test subjects based on titles. A game that is online and free and called “Gravity Duck” cannot be ignored, even of we do have a grant from the NSF to study games not called “Gravity Duck.”

The Duck faces down his greatest challenge.
Your quest: go to Whole Foods and get busy.
Gravity Duck doing what she does best.

We Challenge The Gravity Duck

Superheroes abound. Cool guys like Batman get to appear in major motion pictures and comic books, but many of the lesser known crime-fighting fellows languish in flash games. We’ve never met a free online flash game about ducks we didn’t like. Gravity Duck provides minutes of entertainment worth every electron expended.

This big massive head that doesn’t look like Donald Trump wants your duck to deliver 40 golden eggs. No problem. According to Wikipedia, which is almost never wrong about this type of thing, an average duck can lay an egg every day except when it’s molting. In less than 2 months this game should be winnable.

A functional keyboard makes this game possible. Mouse input is ignored in favor of liberal applications of the ‘x’ key and the left/right arrows. Your duck controls gravity and avoids little widgets that look like leftovers from Commander Keen outtakes. Scoop up the golden eggs before boredom captures your attention.

This is not your Father’s Sea World.

Beware of the Miami Shark

This almost unfair to the shark.
We're gonna need a bigger helicopter.


This is not your Father's Sea World.







Games with trailers are really cool. You imagine rooms of highly skilled multimedia designers, graphics wizards, and crackerjack programmers laboring over every pixel and frequency. There’s so much backstory that a trailer obligates. The game presents levels of complexity such that that play cannot proceed without a behind-the-scenes music video.


A woman swims in what appears to be a fresh-water canal in the backyard of Miami’s moneyed. She floats happily. A shark eats her.

The trailer sets the bar sufficiently low. After that, any free online game would be exciting.

Deploy the arrow keys to maneuver your snarky shark through the troubled waters of Miami. Slam the ‘A’ key to incite a skyward leap. Your goal appears to be eating man-made devices and vehicles, except when you’re not supposed to. Some ostensibly edible items should be avoided: we never quite figured out the difference.

Graphics are not half bad. Perhaps 1/8 bad would be accurate. Your aquatic attacker leaps high enough to snag onto police helicopters. His teeth must be hewn from the enamel of Aargard: once attached, he hangs on for miles and miles. Your score increases according to the stuff your shark chomps.

Should you score big, you may be invited into the Miami Shark Hall of Fame. Your points will be enshrined along with your name in a database somewhere in The Cloud. We scored about 65 thousand points. We believed that to be a good score, given that our direct experience with shark attacking free online video games tends to be on the lean side. Unfortunately a cadre of shark warriors eclipsed our score by several orders of magnitude.


We conclude that free online flash games are fun. Go play.

Rescue Pets with MyePets

Rescue Pets Online?

Sometimes we can’t take in a real pet, but a virtual pet might be an interesting alternative. Real doggies and kitties require food, trips to the vet, long walks in bad weather, and sometimes get in the way of real life.

Children may learn much about caring for living breathing pets by first ‘practicing’ on virtual pets such as the cute puppies at A physical play-pet must first be purchased at a major retailer or an online bidding website that will remain nameless because they won’t give me an affiliate ID. Anyway, a much more (allegedly) reputable site called offers numerous examples of MyePet products that can be ordered conveniently. Prices start at about $10 USD for new pets, probably less for used pets.

Beware when purchasing used copies of products such as MyePets. The ‘animal’ itself may still contain all of the original fluffiness and the cuteness quotient could very well be at the top of the scale, but the access code may be missing or already used. Without the access code, access to the MyePets website is a virtual impossibility. The stuffed animal will still be fun, though.

Rescue a sad virtual puppy at MyePets

Retail Stores that Sell MyePets

In the interest of pure research for the betterment of society, we launched a relatively exhausting search for My e Pets via online channels. Our methodology: we visited several high-profile websites and searched for the toys.

  • K-Mart: we surfed on over to in hopes of finding good deals on My e Pets. We struck out. Using the search feature, we entered “MyePets” and were rewarded with
    Sorry, We could not find any matches for ” myepets “. In the interest of hypothesis revision, we then submitted the phrase “My e Pets“. No cute fluffy ePets were found, but we were rewarded with plethoras of Zhu Zhu Pets, an excellent offering of Jaclyn Smith Traditions Faux Linen Ivory Window Panels, and a nifty pair of Wrangler 5 Star Men’s Regular Fit Jeans. Kudos to the artificial intelligence feature of
  • Target: An internet visit to yielded no results when “MyePets” was searched for. For better or worse, we also received the message “We could not find matches for “My e pets” when we searched for “My e Pets.” Our scientific methodology was beginning to fray at the edges. In the spirit of entrepreneurship. we submitted the simple word “pets.” A flock of products called “PeeWee Pets” flocked to our internet browser. Cuteness examples included PeeWee Puppy, PeeWee Unicorn and PeeWee Ladybug. Seriously, Target sells more species of PeeWee pets than any spoiled child could possibly play with. An example of a My e Pet may have been buried in in the 5253 search results. We were sorely tempted, but we pressed onward.
  • The Meijer search engine brought forth no results, save a sincere digital apology, for the search phrase “MyePets.” We optimistically submitted “my e pets” as we did on previous retail sites… resulting in a single product. Before revealing the single product, keep in mind that the stated goal of a retail establishment, whether it be a traditional bricks-and-mortar physical representation housed in a shopping mall or a high-tech web site hosted on a server in Kokomo, is to sell stuff. They want to move product. Entertainment, logic, or predictability are obviously not all that high up on the list of priorities for these folks. Anyway, when we searched for “my e pets” we were rewarded with a single product: ecoPure Naturals Radiant Coat Dog Supplement. It’s a safe scientific bet that virtual pets of any species or nationality do not require real doggy vitamins.

What do others think of these virtual pets?

An adorable MyePet.

Generally, is considered a relatively safe site for kids of all ages. Online identification is accomplished through a user name. The user name cannot be the same name as the child’s name, although that rule is problematic for a computer to enforce. Assuming that the parents aren’t paying attention and the child is somehow able to create an online persona using some variant of their first name, no other personal information is revealed by the virtual world.

The good people at My e Pets are happy to sell individual stuffed animals and long with them free passes to the online virtual world. A significant part of the online experience is accumulating and spending virtual money. No real money changes hands. Kids can play games and answer questions to pump up their online virtual account. That money purchases more virtual stuff, but offers no conversion to the real world.

SuperPokePets: Adopt a Super Poke Pet

Should You Adopt a SuperPoke Pet ?

We all want to enjoy lovable pets around the house.  After a hard day at work, nothing is more rewarding than a cute fuzzy animal greeting us at the front door.  After a hard day at school, cuddling a furry pet makes us happy. An adorable kitty, puppy, or bunny makes life worth living.  Sometimes it’s simply not convenient or practical to adopt a real live pet.  Horses take up a lot of space. Dogs and cats insist on being fed regularly.  Medical care becomes expensive.

There is an alternative.

An online pet, also referred to as a virtual pet, can be almost as enjoyable as a living pet. Hamsters are fun, pythons are fun (and challenging), but a SuperPoke Pet is always there for you, even if you neglect to feed it or take it to the veterinarian. The Super Poke Pet web site offers completely free SuperPoke pets for adoption. Anyone longing to adopt an virtual creature can visit the site and sign up for a pretend critter.

The SuperPoke Pets home page is a cheery little place that encourages you to jump into the adoption pool. A scrolling window chronicles the activities of other adopters. Click on the Play Now button to begin the adoption process.

A variety of pets are available. Some are recognizable to anyone who ever visited a farm or a zoo. Some are mash-ups of biological oddities that might make awesome pets in real life. You can click on any of the cuddly little avatars to begin your adoption process. We chose the turtle, which immediately became excited to become part of our family. The little critter shrunk back into its’ shell and asked the inevitable question “Shell we play?”. Since we love bad puns as much as virtual pets, this seemed like a match made in digital heaven.

Pick a pet for adoption
We chose to adopt a virtual SuperPoke Pet Turtle
Our virtual turtle needs a name
We named it nicomp, after someone famous that we love and respect.
We named it nicomp, after someone famous that we love and respect.

After naming our Super Poke Pet, we were asked to sign up for an account. We provided a valid email address and created an account on the web site. Oddly enough, we were able to continue the Super Poke Pet adoption process without being required to validate the email address. Most web sites insist on knowing who is accessing their site, especially when a (virtual) creature is involved. We could have been part of a virtual pet syndicate with less than honorable intentions.

Registering our SuperPokePet

We finally get to see our adopted pet

After ‘registering’, we were given unfettered access to our tiny turtle. The little guy (we know it’s a guy because it’s named nicomp) lives in a sparsely furnished one-room apartment. He has a chair that’s not actually engineered for turtle anatomy. He has what appears to be bamboo shoots growing up the walls in the background. Taped to the wall is a poster depicting his SuperPokePet friends, who hopefully will stop by for a visit and bring along some housewarming gifts.

A pig in an elegant top-hat appears in the upper left-hand corner of the room. He provides encouragement and direction should we be unsure just how to care for a virtual pet. His first message assures us that we will have opportunities to earn SPP Points and Coins. Perhaps we may use these currencies to feed and clothe our new responsibility.

Our adopted SuperPokePet live in a sparsely furnished one-room apartment.

Email Arrives from SuperPokePets

Eventually, email arrived from the adoption agency, also known as SuperPokePets. The email offered an opportunity to claim a 1000 coin welcome bonus. We clicked on the link and were transported to the SuperPokePets web site. We were immediately charged with a ‘Quest’. To fulfill the quest we needed to feed our little turtle.

We Feed the Turtle

Our turtle’s initial feeding was accomplished by clicking on a yellow button. The quest window closed and we were transported back to our turtle home room. At the bottom of the window appeared a cute menu: Feed, Tickle, Clean, and Playdate. ‘Feed’, ‘Tickle’, and ‘Clean’ are verbs, but ‘Playdate’ is a noun: it’s all good because turtles can’t read anyway.


Your virtual pet is fed by clicking on an arrow.
Nicomp the turtle needs to be fed, tickled, cleaned, and scheduled for a playdate.
Nicomp the turtle needs to be fed, tickled, cleaned, and scheduled for a playdate.

Free Furniture Arrives

After the initial feeding, we noticed a table in the room. A free table had been delivered while we were eating, perhaps. The table and the chair don’t match, leading us to suspect that our adopted turtle is a college student who can’t afford good furnishings just yet. On the other hand, the lack of pizza boxes scattered about the room may disprove our theory.

We plan to continue caring for our new adopted pet from different computers in various locations. The SuperPokePet world seems to have much to offer beyond feeding and tickling. Perhaps we will form a cadre of home-schooled virtual turtles who will one day start their own web site for the benefit of online animals everywhere.

We went shopping for a tree stump.

The Turtle Goes Shopping

Knowing how much turtles love to shop, we took little nicomp on a short trip to the accessory store. After some discussion, we settled on a tree stump as our initial purchase. Unfortunately we were rebuffed at checkout: not enough money. This confused us, since we were sent 1000 coins or something when we received our confirming email. Oh, well.

We put the tree stump back on the virtual shelf and went home. The turtle wouldn’t have been able to climb onto it anyway.


SuperPokePets seems mostly harmless so far. The adoption process is free and easy. The graphics are somewhat engaging. The entire experience is delivered in Flash, which is also free and probably offers no threat to your computer. Unlike other virtual pets such as Guffins, you do not need to download and execute a program on your computer.

You should be able to visit with your pet on any computer that supports the Adobe Flash player, which constitutes the vast majority of personal computers and smart phones. We used Windows XP and the Firefox browser and we experienced no apparent problems. If your computer does not have flash installed, ask your IT support person for assistance in installing the program.