Phone your monkey!

Now you can you deal out life or death to artificial monkeys directly from your mobile phone.

Motorola’s Global Telecom Solutions Sector (GTSS) and Creature Labs said today that the two companies are to jointly develop and market ‘artificial life pet nurturing games’ that consumers can play with on data-enabled handsets connected to 2.5G and 3G cellular networks including GPRS and UMTS.

Under the terms of a two-year agreement, exclusive within the wireless market, Motorola will be marketing games developed by Creature Labs. Apparently, these will be aimed at non-traditional gamers, including a greater percentage of female users.

The first offering is based upon the world famous ‘Sea-Monkey’ brand. The game begins with the birth of a Sea-Monkey virtual pet and challenges the player to take the creature through various stages of life. However, because the game resides on a server connected to the operator’s wireless network and not inside the player’s handset, the game remains active and requires the player to connect to the network periodically to ensure that the Sea-Monkey pets are happy and healthy.

Each player has a virtual tank in which the Sea-Monkey pet lives. Caring for a Sea Monkey pet requires the player to also care for the environmental condition of the tank. Different kinds of plants, for example, provide Sea Monkey pets something to play with. More importantly, however, these plant life forms also introduce life-supporting oxygen into the water so that the creatures can live.

A player can have multiple Sea-Monkey pets, which places an even greater emphasis on the care and feeding of each, plus the fact that waste generated by these creatures must also be dealt with or risk contamination of the creatures’ virtual tank.

The more interaction a player has with the Sea-Monkey pets and their environment, the more the player is rewarded in the form of bonuses. These bonuses can then be traded for more plants for the tank, virtual machinery for keeping the tank clean, or can encourage the ‘building of relationships’ with other creatures.

Feeding a Sea-Monkey pet is critical to playing the game successfully. A Sea-Monkey pet that is fed too little will not have the energy to swim and play its way into a healthy existence. What is more, a Sea-Monkey pet that is fed too little when it is young will not grow to adulthood the way a properly fed creature will. Overfeeding a Sea-Monkey pet can cause other problems, such as increasing the amount of waste in the virtual tank, which in turn can produce an unbalanced biochemistry that would threaten all the creatures in the tank.

Motorola sees the wireless games market as ‘being of major importance to developing the mobile user’s experience’, and as a consequence, increasing network usage and revenue opportunities.

I can’t wait to start cleaning out my tank.