Tamagotchi is Small, But It Has a Big Impact

But importantly, Tamagotchi was also one of the earliest video games to be sold primarily to women. When consoles like Nintendo were first released, according to Crowley, they were placed on shelves exclusively in the boy section of Toys “R” Us. With Tamagotchi, the opposite happened. It challenges the hyper-masculinity that has been associated with video games in the past, he said.

“Tamagotchi has given access to people who have been ignored in the last decade of the video game industry,” Crowley said.

Surprisingly, this was done by playing on the gender stereotypes that prevailed at the time, and to this day still are. It’s a toy that attracts women through what are perceived as stereotypical female characteristics — like maternal instinct or the concept of nurturing. For girls to be allowed to play video games, they need the role of a caregiver.

“Tamagotchi was very reflective of the social conditions at the time of its emergence,” Crowley said. “So on the one hand, we ended up offering it to women, while on the other hand, it was said ‘this is what women do, this is what they deserve.'”

The Past and Future of Virtual Reality

If not the first, Tamagotchi is an early example of a video game that bridges the lines between the digital world and the real world, or virtual reality.

In 1997, Finnish addiction specialist and sociologist Teuvo Peltoniemi issued a sad warning about Tamagotchi’s South China Morning Post: “Virtual reality is a new drug, and Tamagotchis is the first wave. Not just one trend is going away. [Tamagotchis] is an ideal example of the possible threat in a virtual world that could, in the future, be a real trust problem that needs treatment. ”

As an addiction specialist, Peltoniemi became increasingly anxious when he saw children being stuck with their Tamagotchi in schools and at the dinner table. In her work, she uses Tamagotchi to show how children and adults can produce overly emotional responses to virtual characters.

“Tamagotchi, I think, is the first small tool accessible to the average consumer where you can find virtual reality, and the most important part of it is that it attracts emotions and sentimentality. to people through care, ”Peltoniemi told WIRED.

“People have developed a very strong emotional connection with their Tamagotchis because they, in a way, have a digital pet relationship, to the extent that people feel like they have enough human parts. to make funerals when they die, “he continued.

For some, Tamagotchi continues to attract it even into adulthood. Kim Matthews, 32, from Australia was one of the men. As a child, his “right” was one of his favorite toys. In adulthood, it is still the same — even today for nostalgic purposes. She was given her first Tamagotchi for her eighth birthday and immediately fell in love — competing with her friends to see who could go on with their lives the longest.

“Unfortunately, my first Tamagotchi didn’t know he was going to swim with me in the pool one day,” Matthews said. “I’m broke.”

With a collection of 71 Tamagotchis accumulated in his lifetime, Matthews still has a hard time explaining what has made him take care of them so well, even after 25 years.

“I think they’re neat,” he joked, a reference a meme by Marge Simpson. “Maybe it’s something of the ’90s kids.”

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