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BACK IN MY DAY: Tamagotchi Teen Parent

Monday, 3 March, 2014

Words by Christian Orkibi
Illustrations by Sarah McDonald
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Ever imagined what it must be like to be a teen parent? Having to change your baby’s nappies while your parents are nagging you to clean your room. Posting status updates about your child’s first word when your friends are nek nominating one another. Not being able to go clubbing with your friends because you’re crouched in fetal position on your bed listening to Sinead O’ Connor on a loop.

The life of a teen-mum was much easier back in the mid ‘90s; children consisted of 14 pixels, were trapped in handheld devices and only died twice a week. I refer to the world of the Tamagotchi, the Japanese craze that swept the world and wasted the lives of every kid under the sun.

Akihiro Yokoi of WiZ and Aki Maita of Bandai developed the first Tamagotchi in 1996, to help young girls learn the basics of parenting. The name Tamagotchi was derived from the Japanese word for egg, “tamago”, and the English word “watch”. The story is simple: an alien race of Tamagotchis land on earth and for some reason, are incapable of caring for themselves or maintaining personal hygiene. Thus, it falls upon the teenagers of earth—boys included—to care for these little nightmares.

For anyone who owned a Tamagotchi in the early days, the process of picking up poo, dropping off food and giving your fungus covered children a smack in the face became a well-oiled machine. This routine eventually developed, through many editions, to include a series of mini-games with high score tables and hunting.

As you looked after or slowly murdered your pet, it grew through different stages of life, from baby to adult. However, everyone who owned a Tamagotchi experienced the heartbreak of the angel rising from a dead Tamagotchi’s body. Leave your pet for too long and they will ascend to the heavens forcing you to begin anew. Common causes of death were either excrement suffocation or a simple lack of common sense to get feed them.

If you were a kid in the ‘90s, chances are you had a Tamagotchi. However, I bet I can throw a couple of random facts your way that you mightn’t know about our alien friends.

Fact one: in December 2007, Tamagotchi The Movie told the story of Tanpopo, a teenage girl transported into the world of crystal meth Tamagotchis. The film received dismal reviews.

Fact two: German band Die Ärzte may have a hard-arse name, but in 2012 they released a song entitled ‘Tamagotchi’. Remarkably the band’s career is still going strong.

Despite being the subject of crude insults and general humiliation in today’s culture, Tamagotchi was truly a gem of the ‘90s; the world it created and the copycats it inspired are evidence of that.

Tamagotchi taught teenagers what it was like to have a child, and evened out global population growth. Thanks Japan.