Tamagotchi taught us adult responsibility at an early age. At a time when our only real stress was going to school and making sure we were awake early enough to watch Saturday morning cartoons, Tamagotchi were there to ensure that we got our shit together and we didn’t leave our virtual pets to die. We cleaned them, fed them, played games with them, and were promptly told to not bring them to school because we believed they were vastly more important than our education.
Tamagotchi were small, egg-shaped, portable games that housed a variety of different animals and/or monsters. The lack of pixels stuffed into these things ensured that the creature you birthed didn’t really look similar to what you had selected. Every animal was basically just a black and white blob, though that didn’t matter; you grew attached to these things anyway. Plus, they curled out smelly turds, and that was the most hilarious thing ever back in the ’90s.
Invented by WiZ and Bandai, Tamagotchi were released outside of Japan in 1997. This was also around the time when the Pokemon boom was happening, ensuring that virtual pets had firmly booted our real dogs and cats down the pecking order. Things got pretty crazy during the height of ‘gotchi-mania, with a graveyard in the UK even containing a section devoted to the electronic toys when the virtual pets within them had perished.
Though Tamagotchi were subject to the same kind of adult derision reserved for every popular fad, the toy was unique in that its main hook revolved around empathy. You took care of your creature from birth to death, and it changed throughout its life cycle to reflect the level of care you’d put into it. Had you kept a well-cleaned and properly fed Tamagotchi? Then as it developed, your hard work would be rewarded with a virtual pet that was easier to look after and more enjoyable to interact with. It was essentially Parenting: The Video Game, albeit with a reset button allowing players to start all over again if it got too much for them.
Though they’re nowhere near as popular as they once were, Tamagotchi are still available to buy today. You can pick one up for $7 on Amazon, and they’re basically the same as they always have been. There’s also the iOS and Android game My Tamagotchi Forever, which allows you to take care of Tamagotchi in a 3D world on your phone.
Do you remember Tamagotchi? Let us know your virtual pet memories in the comments below!