For kids growing up in the 90s, it was the one toy you and all your friends had to have. The idea of having a virtual playmate to feed and play with was just so much fun! The obsession with the Tamagotchi as it was known was definitely a phase I went through! I had a white and pink one, and it could be attached as a key ring with a little chain. The idea of mothering this ‘child’ from birth, and essentially seeing it grow made me feel responsible and important. I think this was its fascination for many kids out there.
The thing is, looking back at it now; it was such a simple toy! First released in 1996 in Japan, it didn’t even have a colour screen, or much sound besides this kind of buzzing sound effect. There were three buttons (although this varied depending on the model) to control it with, and the basic point of it was to nurture the Tamagotchi egg once it hatched, name it, feed and play with it and keep it happy until it grew up! You even knew when it was tired, and had to turn off its lights when it was bed time. Eventually, when it got older, the Tamagotchi could mate with another and start another family and the process begins again. But if it was uncared for, it would die.
Exciting right? I laugh at its concept now but I know me and my friends took our precious little Tamagotchi’s lives very seriously! Toys back then were appreciated so much more, I mean, there was no chance of an Xbox 360, or Nintendo Wii in the pipe line so things like this were not only exciting, but a significant part of growing up as a kid in the 90’s. If you didn’t have one, amongst other toys like the Game Boy, My Little Pony, Baby Expressions and every single Power Ranger, it’s like you didn’t live!
The Japanese toy still lives on today. With over 44 versions of the toy being released since its inception, there are now even video games for Game Boy, a film release called Tamagotchi: The Movie in 2007, and an animated series called Let’s Go! Tamagotchi, which began streaming on YouTube in 2008. Who knew it would last so long?
The Tamagotchi is definitely on my list of all time favourite toys, and I’m pretty sure it inspired many other virtual games that came afterwards. But somehow, I think it was a bit girly for the boys in school to have one, they were more interested in swapping Pokémon cards! Wow, there’s another old school memory. The list is endless.
By Sherelle Lancaster