When I say Tamagotchi, depending on your age and interests, you might say tama-what? But if you grew up during the 90s or even the early aughts, you might recall a small egg-shaped electronic toy that was everywhere. They might have been so popular that your school was forced to ban them, to stop their incessant beeping from disrupting classes.
The first ones developed by Bandai, were released in Japan in 1996. The following year, the creators of the Tamagotchi were awarded the Ig Nobel Prize, in Economics. The official site of the Ig Nobel Prizes state that prizes are awarded for making people laugh and then think. The Tamagotchi impressed the Ig Nobel community because its makers had invested so much time, money and effort into the husbandry of virtual pets.
But it was an investment that paid off handsomely. After the success of the Tamagotchi, a media empire in the form of comic books, animated TV series, movies and video games followed.
But what of the Tamagotchi community today?
Today, a quick look on Carousell shows a first generation Tamagotchi going for $50. Newer models go for as high as $250. For perspective, a regular Tamagotchi would have cost around $30 in the 90s, adjusted for inflation. When it comes to limited edition Tamagotchis however, you might end up spending half a grand. Especially if you’re hoping to buy one of these in mint condition:
This is the Devilgotchi, or debirugotchi. The unique point about the Devilgotchi is its propensity towards disobeying its owner. In that sense, it can be a frustrating character to care for but the fact that it is highest value Tamagotchi shows how loved it is by the community. There is also an active Tamagotchi modding scene. Crafters make custom shells, or protective covers, for Tamagotchis and they also make cosies.
In fact, one of the most popular places to buy handmade Tamagotchi covers, Fuzzy N’ Chic, is based in Singapore! Its proprietor, Rachel Liew, is a HR Technologist and also an unabashed fan of video games and Tamagotchis. She owns almost a hundred of the little eggs!
Present day Tamagotchis have the function of connecting to our mobile phones through Bandai’s Tamagotchi’s app. Through this app, you can connect to your friend’s Tamagotchi and marry each other’s characters! Present day Tamagotchis are also able to visit more than 10 separate locations and even take vacations. The latest addition to the Tamagotchi family, the Tamagotchi On, was released in 2018.
Looks like the Tamagotchi empire isn’t going away anytime soon. Have you ever played with a Tamagotchi toy? What are your fondest memories of the Tamagotchi?