On November 23, 1996, every Japanese child who had not been allowed to have a pet got a lucky break. Akihiro Yokoi of WiZ and Aki Maita of Bandai created the first digital pet named Tamagotchi. In May next year, Tamagotchi was released around the world, giving joy to all kids that were denied a real pet.
What is Tamagotchi
Tamagotchi is a digital device that simulates the life and development of a pet animal. Originally the device was shaped as an egg with three buttons, but the design has changed later on. The first part of the name Tamagotchi is actually derived from the Japanese word for egg.
The life of a Tamagotchi pet
A Tamagotchi game starts with the birth of a pet and then you learn about its family and/or gender and you give it a name. Your goal is to raise your pet from a baby to an adult and care for it until it dies. You do this by regulating pet meters: Happy meter, Hunger meter, Bracelet meter, and Discipline meter. The Happy meter is filled by playing with your pet in many mini-games or by giving it candy. Apart from candy, you can feed your pet other types of food, often bread, but your pet can get sick if you overfeed it. The pet may even refuse to eat or play with you from time to time, and that’s the time when you need to discipline it, which is done by scolding. If your pet is not disciplined enough, it may run away from you.
To make the game more interesting, Tamagotchi is time bound. Your pet’s time passes, and you need to adjust your own life so that you can take care of your pet. If you don’t pay attention to timing, your pet may get sick and die. In the newer versions of the game, you can restart the game when your pet dies and get a new pet. The original version of Tamagotchi didn’t have the restart option, which made caring for your pet more serious and more personal. However, the first Tamagotchi pets were basically immortal as long as you took good care of them as they couldn’t die of old age.
The modern versions of Tamagotchi have new mechanics and additional features. There are in-game currencies that can be used to buy food, accessories, toys and decorations for your pet’s room. Your pet can now get married and have a family of its own and can be connected to other pets via infrared sensors.
Success of Tamagotchi
The concept of Tamagotchi has been well received all around the world. It became popular in 1990s and early 2000s and it still has good sales. So far, over 158 million units have been sold around the world and Akihiro Tokoi and Aki Maita received a Nobel Prize for economics for inventing Tamagotchi.
Tamagotchi was even made into a movie and anime. On December 15, 2007, the movie named “Tamagotchi: The Movie” was released. In April 28, 2017, another but shorter movie was released under the title “Tamagotchi: Secret Delivery Operation”. The anime adaptation of Tamagotchi, named ”Hakken!! Tamagotchi”, was aired from July 7, 1997 to March 21, 1998 on Fuji TV. Another adaptation of Tamagotchi named “Tamagotchi!” was aired from October 2009 to March 2015. The third adaptation “Tamagotchi!Yume Kira Dream” has online episodes aimed at promoting the anime outside Japan.
As we can see, the popularity of Tamagotchi hasn’t declined over time and we can expect more developments and adaptations of this game in the future.