I met my first Tamagotchi last winter when my daughter received one as a gift. Days of feeding, playing, sleeping, and cleaning the poop of this the small, portable, electronic toy ensued. She takes care of all its needs by pushing the little buttons just below the screen. With good care it eventually it grows into an adult, meets the matchmaker, and has a baby. The new generation takes over and eventually it grows into an adult and so on and so on et cetera ad infinitum.
One day her friend came over to play and brought her Tamagotchi and they linked up their adults and had a baby together. Unfortunately, she forgot to hit pause when she went to her dad’s place and it died, alone, covered in e-poo, buried in the mess in her room. She had to start over again with a new Tamagotchi family.
I’ve talked with other parents about the Tamagotchi and some adamantly refuse to allow their kids to own them or play. I think these are the parents who see anything trendy as a “bad thing” and so without any research they implement an outright ban. What I see is quiet kids who never talked to anyone else going up to other kids, or being sought out, to connect with other Tamagotchis. When players connect they increase their friends list, play with the other characters and expand the game play. Tamogatchi can be a tool to create social networks. I say let them play, if it has the potential to create friendships that otherwise would not have formed.
Taking care of these toys do give kids a chance to look at what’s attached to caring for a small, defenseless other. I know the musical alarm/alert isn’t as piercing as a baby’s cry but if it offers even a glimpse into the responsibilities of parenting maybe the work of raising a child won’t come as such a surprise for those who find themselves with children later in life. Maybe there’s a way to combine Tamagotchi play with sex education?
I’m also curious if anyone has figured out the six degrees of Kevin Bacon between his and their Tamagotchi’s?