Digimon, short for Digital Monsters, is a Japanese media franchise encompassing virtual pet toys, anime, manga, video games, films and a trading card game. The franchise focuses on the eponymous creatures, who inhabit a Digital World, a parallel universe that originated from Earth's various communication networks. The franchise was created in 1997 as a series of virtual pets, intended as the masculine counterpart to Tamagotchi. The creatures were first designed to look cute and iconic even on the devices' small screens; later developments had them created with a harder-edged style influenced by American comics. The franchise gained momentum with its first anime incarnation, Digimon Adventure, and an early video game, Digimon World, both released in 1999. Several anime series and films based on them have been released, and the video game series has expanded into genres such as role-playing, racing, fighting, and MMORPGs.