Friday, March 13, 2009

How they learned to text= TAMAGOTCHI



Do you remember Tamagotchis? These egg shaped mini computers were a huge hit with elementary school kids around 1997. They were made by the Japanese company Bandai and released in the US I think when the Japanese got sick of them or all their little eggs died. Dinah was the right age, and got hooked, possibly because her mother (ahem) was already a Tamagotchi fiend, struggling to obtain a wondrous computer egg. Their packaging was desirable too, if you like that sort of thing.

These keychain conquered eggs came in various colors. This gold egg was already a commemorative edition when it was released, but there was a time when I craved it. You set them on life's trail by hatching the digital egg on the screen, then had to keep on feeding them and cleaning up after them by pressing those tiny buttons at the bottom of the screen. You had to press those little buttons very often. Their state of happiness registered. The characters changed into different growth forms if you did it right, but if you forgot them, they, uh, died... OH NO!

I really think these eggs trained a generation for text messaging as they had to hold the egg in their hands in the requisite state of constant partial attention and keep feeding or cleaning up the poop.

At a certain point children weren't allowed to take them to school because they were looking down at their little eggs just as if they were, uh, texting in the future. So I became a Tamagotchi guardian. I was feeding many little eggs. I was the Nadya whats her name of the Tamagotchi world.

And we found an off brand with a penguin that I think was named Dinky. Dinky the Penguin was so cute. Far cuter than any of the Tamagotchi brand characters. I remember being especially devoted to Dinky. One day, while Dinah was taking a riding lesson, Dinky died. On MY WATCH! I was devastated. I pressed the food button madly, but Dinky flew off into the sky.

8 comments:

Namowal said...

Poor Dinky! Were you in BIG trouble with Dinah?

Tamagotchis were a hit when I taught school. I confiscated a few ( until after class) when the kids were fooling around with them instead of doing their work. Each time the kid protested that it "could die!"
What was I supposed to do? Endanger their virtual pets? Let them skip their classwork to keep them alive? I chose the former, and each pet survived anyway.

Sally said...

No, she felt sorry for me. Glad you understand what that fever was like at that time.

Mean Jean said...

They are back. I had no experience with them the 1st time around, so I'm not sure how different they are now. They register them online and they interact some way or another. At least 2 of the grandkids have them.

Sally said...

uh oh, Mean Jean. Not sure this news makes me happy. Mighty tempted to see what they're like now!

Linda said...

This is such a great story.

Gosh, I can't imagine why you would be drawn to them. Talk about Fun on Mars, get a load of this:

http://tamagotch.channel.or.jp/

I wanted one like crazy when I first read about them. I was in TN and it wasn't easy to find one there, or on the internet either. Were you able to find the real Tamagotchi's in LA? Where did you find Dinky? Dinah is nice.

Sally said...

Linda, we couldn't get them for the longest time and then suddenly they were in a big pen at Toys R Us. Dinky came from Savon I think. He was the cutest of them all.

We had a family reunion in Las Vegas around that time, and that's where I saw the excellent gold and silver commemorative versions though I never bought one. I confess, I used to look at them on ebay.

But these new Tamagotchis from your link, Linda, wooOh. Don't let me near them. It's bad enough I know how to bet on horses from my computer! Don't like the McDonald's tie in, though, even though the language is all Japanese.

yes, Dinah IS nice.

stray said...

How do you guys make heads or tails of that site? Where is the McD. tie in?

stray postscript said...

(I did just see some burgers fly by, so perhaps that was it....)