In 1996, tamagotchi (たまごっち) was released in Japan by Bandai, the world's first virtual pet. Over 40 million units have been sold worldwide, 12 million in the United States and Canada alone.
The toy is very simple, a small LCD screen, a strong colored plastic box and a few buttons. The images displayed on the screen were very basic, just dots, but even with such simplicity, it managed to be attractive and fun.
Tamagotchi was created by Yokoi Akihiro, motivated to see on TV a child trying to carry his pet turtle in the suitcase. So Yokoi thought about making a pet that could go with anyone, anywhere.
And that was how Tamagotchi was born, being released on November 23, 1996. The following year they came to the United States, in packages with flashy designs making it very successful. So much so that at its peak, 15 units were sold every minute.
Features and popularity
The game starts with a small egg, from which a varied virtual animal is born. It is necessary to take care of this animal, performing several different functions such as feeding, playing with it, making it sleep and maintaining its hygiene. If you took good care of him, the animal evolved in size and shape. But if the animal is left out, it becomes ugly, rebellious and may even die. If this happens, the player must start again with a new egg.
Even the Tamagotchi virtual creatures, who lived inside plastic egg-shaped keychains, they really became "alive". Their behavior created the illusion that they were real animals. This famous toy was very popular with children and teenagers. And unlike most games, it encouraged responsibility and hygienic and nutritional behavior.
Another difference was that it was popular with both boys and girls. In addition, due to its small size, the carrier could transport them wherever they went, being able to easily compare their animals with their friends. And to be successful the child should be more attentive and responsible than violent.
But some critics pointed out some problems with this toy. Many said that the toy created an unrealistic perception of death and distracted children a lot. This has led many schools in Japan and the United States to establish strict rules and even to ban toys.
Changes had to be made for the American public, as the idea of virtual death was considered disturbing. Instead of dying, the characters of the next generation Tamagotchi passed into another world, creating angel wings and flying away.
Changes in Tamagotchi
The toy's success was short-lived, ending its peak two years after its launch in 1998. Sales declined relatively quickly due to many speculations. The drop in sales of Tamagotchi was rapid worldwide. The fact already mentioned of the banning of the toy in many schools, discouraged parents from buying it for their children.
But even in spite of several problems in the sale and in its functionality, its developers did not stop evolving the toy. They soon made Tamagotchis more interactive and enjoyable, even having more intelligence of their own. Making the person not need to pay as much attention as in previous versions.
New interactive functions have been added, such as infrared communication. This allowed the virtual pet to become friends with other Tamagotchi, even exchanging gifts.
The legacy created by Tamagotchi remains alive today in many ways. Opening the door to cell phone games, computer software and even interactive children's TV programs. One such example is the Pou application, for Android and iOS, which in the Play Store alone has more than 10 million downloads. Because of this, 20 years after its launch, Bandai in 2017 returned to market the toy.
All of this shows that Tamagotchis were not just mere toys, but a new perception of “virtual life”. Have you ever had a Tamagotchis? Did you take good care of him or did you let him die several times? Tell us here in the comments and share it with your friends.