As the moral debate over violence sees toy guns swept from store shelves, Warner Interactive is to launch a game which forgoes killing and offers instead a chance to "test your parental skills and influence your creatures in their growing-up process".
The company claims it will teach social skills, as the better the Creatures are looked after, the longer they live. A spokeswoman said: "Lately, there has been a revolt from parents who say everything on television, videos and games is violent. Warner decided this would be the game to end the violence." She claimed 250,000 sales in advance of the 11 November launch date, indicating a demand for the peaceful alternative.
Gerry Masters, secretary of the British Association of Toy Retailers, said there had been a shift in attitudes towards children's toys which has forced a reassessment of guns. "Lots of members don't stock toy guns now, particularly the more realistic guns," he said.
Yesterday, in Hamley's toy store in London, there were no replica handguns or machine guns in sight, and the only toy blades were presented as ancient "Crusade" kits or glow-in-the-dark swords.
However, there was an array of computer games, priced up to pounds 50, which featured guns, knives or fighting on their covers.
Many parents imposed a ban on toy weapons long ago and are now thinking carefully about which of the computer games, with names like Doom and Streets of Rage II, to buy.
"We only buy them games which are educational or which can improve their co-ordination," said Margaret Balfe, from south London, who has two children, Eilish, four, and Declan, five. "But we don't believe in censoring things or saying an absolute `no' to guns. If you did that, you might end up glamorising them."
Gwyneth Roberts of Llandudno in north Wales said she had never bought her nine-year-old son, Gareth, guns and was now worried about computer games.
"If the stores have taken the initiative in pulling out replica guns, then I think that is a wonderful lead. Perhaps they should keep an eye on their computer games next."