1. What is Tamagotchi?
The word Tamagotchi(たまごち) is the combination of the Japanese word Tamago, meaning egg, and the English word Watch. The Japanese company Bandai released the handheld game in November of 1996. After that, Tamagotchi’s success spread throughout the world. As of 2010, over 76 million Tamagotchis have been sold worldwide.
Development of Tamagotchi Devices
As we can see, Bandai has released a lot of different Tamagotchis. In December 1997, Bandai added in a function where players were able to physically connect two Tamagotchis and interact with each other. It was also possible to obtain a baby pet by connecting a Mesutchi (female Tamagotchi) to an Osutchi(male Tamagotchi). Later on, this interacting function became important in following Tamagotchi models.
There are some reasons as to why Tamagotchi was a big fad at the time. First, Japan had a very hard time economically in the 90s – a lot of companies couldn’t guarantee permanent positions to their employees anymore. As a result, it was very common for both parents to be working instead of having one spouse caring for the children. Therefore, children started to spend more time on their own. Secondly, different housing systems impacted the families. Apartments became the most popular housing choice in Japan because of the increasing population in the 90s. Due to these two transitions, the idea of virtual pets became popular amongst children as a form of entertainment.
For different reasons, Tamagotchi was also popular outside Japan. The Tamagotchi is way smaller and lighter than mobile game consoles at the time, such as the Game boy. This made it convenient for people to carry around. Moreover, it is very easy to learn, with only 3 buttons and basic actions including feeding, playing games, and medicating. Furthermore, it was affordable, priced around USD$17. On the other hand, the Game boy which was the most popular mobile console at the time cost USD$90. Lastly, the media contributed to its fame. Playing Tamagotchi became controversial by that time because of some reasons such as distracting class, driving, and work.
Tamagotchi has only 3 buttons like the picture above, so it was very easy for everyone to learn games.
Users can play a simple game with Tamagotchi such as “Rock, Papers, Scissors”, and it can make their virtual pet in a good mood. This is an important part of playing Tamagotchi.
These show how Tamagotchi grow up. Most importantly, it displays virtual relationships. At the end of the stages, the Tamagotchi will grow up to be an adult out of 6 possible adult characters. The resulting character will reflect how users discipline and care for their virtual pets. The virtual relationship you build with your Tamagotchi is a very important aspect of this game and it is the reason why people become more attached to their virtual pets.
The important part of Tamagotchi is it displays virtual relationships. At the end of the stages, the Tamagotchi will grow up to be an adult out of 6 possible adult characters. The resulting character will reflect how users discipline and care for their virtual pets. The virtual relationship you build with your Tamagotchi is a very important aspect of this game and it is the reason why people become more attached to their virtual pets.
5. In other media
The success of Tamagotchi has influenced other media such as music, animation, and tv animated series.
Tamagotchi: The Movie was released on December 15, 2007 by Toho Co. The movie’s first English release was a direct-to-DVD version, released on June 3, 2009 in Australia. The UK DVD was released on September 14, 2009 via Manga Entertainment.
<Every Lovely in 1997>
Since its debut, Tamagotchi has made its way onto several gaming platforms such as PC, Mobile game consoles, and even regular video game consoles.Tamagotchi is now available with smartphones as well. Bandai tried to keep the interface of original Tamagotchi on smartphones.
- Tamagotchi — Game Boy (International), 1997
- Game de Hakken!! Tamagotchi V2 — Game Boy (Japan), 1997
- Game de Hakken!! Tamagotchi Osutchi to Mesutchi — Game Boy (Japan), 1997
- Tamagotchi 64: Minna de Tamagotchi World — Nintendo 64 (Japan), 1997
- Tamagotchi CD-ROM — Windows 95 (International), 1998
- Hoshi de Hakken!! Tamagotchi — PlayStation (Japan), 1998
- Tamagotchi Connection: Corner Shop — Nintendo DS (International), 2005
- Tamagotchi Connection: Corner Shop 2 — Nintendo DS (International), 2006
- Tamagotchi: Party On! — Wii (International), 2006
- Tamagotchi Connection: Corner Shop 3 — Nintendo DS (International), 2007
- ‘Tamagotchi: Dance Fever! — Wii (Japan), 2007
- Tamagotchi no Narikiri Channel — Nintendo DS (Japan), 2009
- Tamagotchi no Narikiri Challenge — Nintendo DS (Japan), 2010
- Tamagotchi Collection — Nintendo DS (Japan), 2011
- Tamagotchi Connection: Corner Shop 4 – Nintendo DS/Nintendo 3DS (Japan), Nintendo DS 2008, Nintendo 3DS TBC 2012
- Tamagotchi L.I.F.E– Android, iPod Touch, iPad, iPhone, 2013
Virtual relationships in Tamagotchi were not fully developed. However, it was the first game that brought users into the game to listen to what their pets or virtual partners are saying. It has a significant meaning in gaming history because many game companies saw the potential of integrating virtual relationships into games. More recently, games such as Hatsune Miku project Vita, Pokemon X and Y, animal crossing, and even RPG games show outstanding virtual relationships. For example, many RPG games adopt this idea in order to get players to become attached to the game. Even in rhythm games, like Hatsune Miku project Vita, having good relationships with other characters is a prominent part of the game play. Pokemon X and Y also contain virtual relationships, where users can have advantages or disadvantages when they fight with others depending on their relationship with their pokemon.
This pictures shows how other games includes virtual relationship as a part of gaming.
Overall, Tamagotchi opened up the possibilities of virtual relationships on all platforms of media. For example, Vocaloid, which is a virtual singer in Japan, is a big part of entertainment in Japan with a worldwide fan base. Although we don’t really notice, virtual relationships have become a pervasive component of a variety of entertainment.
Lockwood, Lisa. “Tamagotchi Reinvented.(Bandai Company Ltd’s market)(Brief article).” WWD2013: Academic OneFile. Web. 10 Nov. 2013.
“BANDAI CO. LTD. TO LAUNCH NEW LIFESTYLE PRODUCT LINE BASED ON TAMAGOTCHI[R] BRAND IN THE U.S.; NAMES SYNC BEATZ ENTERTAINMENT U.S. LICENSING AGENCY TO ROLL OUT ‘TAMAGOTCHI L.I.F.E.’ PROGRAM.” States News Service2012: Academic OneFile. Web. 10 Nov. 2013.
Garrison, Laura Turner. “Whatever Happened To … Tamagotchi?.” Fast Company 165 (2012): 46-468. Business Source Complete. Web. 10 Nov. 2013.
Bandai.com – Home: Find Toys for Power Rangers, Ben 10, Pac-Man, TechPet, and Various Other Action Figures and Toys. Digital image. Bandai.com – Home: Find Toys for Power Rangers, Ben 10, Pac-Man, TechPet, and Various Other Action Figures and Toys. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Nov. 2013.
Tamagotchi. Digital image. Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 11 Sept. 2013. Web. 10 Nov. 2013.