There’s a blue sofa in a landfill somewhere beeping away begging for food and water. No, the sofa hasn’t magically come to life… it’s got mine and my brother’s 14 year old Tamagotchi in it.
Granted, its probably dead now (both figuratively and literally… I’m sure the battery is kaput), it was our little pride and joy and we looked after it better than we’d probably have looked after ourselves at around ages 5 and 10. It was the living proof to our mum the we could never have a pet; if we couldn’t look after a virtual one, would we ever be able to commit to a real dog? That, and our long lineage of fish named Bubbles or Rainbow with too many roman numerals to count. To our parents and grandparents, it was the best thing for their fighting and arguing kids since we stopped living in the same room. It was something we actually bonded over, a pet we took turns to look after and as far as I knew, I was just as helpful as my big brother at feeding the pixelated character.
I feel the Tamagotchi would have served a similar purpose in many other households across the globe. Whether it pacifies a child’s need for a pet, gives an only child something to do while their parents were busy, or allows siblings to bond, the Tamagotchi was loved universally. Reflecting on it as an adult that has to fend for herself, it would have set up the foundational ideas of responsibility and relationships needs. Feeding, needing to rest, needing attention, entertainment – giving a Tamagotchi these things, and it being so easy to kill or deplete of energy if these things were not done showed how important these things are on our own lives, both as kids and adults. It forces us to pay attention to the toy, and feed it and essentially gives purpose to a kid’s life that might feel a bit boring, especially if school life or even home life was unpleasant. More than anything, it was an escape from everyday life.
So you can imagine how we felt when one day we came to get our Tamagotchi from the sofa where we last left it, for it to just not be there. We searched high and low, in side cushions, between the cracks of the blue sofa, and eventually every crevice of our house. It was nowhere to be found. We were sure it hadn’t been taken from us, and so we just believed that it was lost forever and begged for another one. We were denied. Truly to this day, we haven’t invested in another because we just have no idea where it could have gone and we never want to experience again how we felt that day.
Being excessively dramatic aside, that Tamagotchi brought us so much joy for however long we had it and I’m sure we weren’t unique in the experience of both enjoying the small pet and having a strange disappearance story for it.
RIP pixelated friend, you are missed every day.