TAMAGOTCHI A R C H A E O L O G Y
D E S I G N
CARLY DAVENPORT KEA'A DAVIS SOPHIE KIM
A BIT OF HISTORY
15 DESIGN BREAKDOWN
THE TAMAGOTCHI EFFECT
17 WHAT COMES NEXT?
TESTIMONIES OF THE TAMAGOTCHI EFFECT
HISTORY In 1998 a small egg shaped device was shaking the world up. It was the height of Tamagotchi, one of the first devices to introduce the idea of digital pets. At the beeping call of the device, people could feed their Tamagotchis by toggling through the device’s three buttons. As explained through the toy’s lore, Tamagotchis are small aliens. Tamagotchi eggs land on Earth and hatch to see what life there is like. The players responsibility is to guide the newly hatched being to become an adult. Tamagotchis go through several stages of life and grow into smarter, happier, and more selfless adults if the player gives it more care. People loved their Tamagotchis. In 1998, Tamagotchis made up 20% of Bandai’s sales and 82 million units have been sold as of 2017.
TAMAGOTCHI EFFECT The Tamagotchi Effect describes when humans develop emotional attachment to machines, robots, or software agents. Some researchers have pointed out the ways in which the relationship between humans and tamagotchi is similar to that of a cyborg. The term "Tamagotchi-human cyborg" refers to how the relationship between humans and tamagotchi is symbiotic. The Tamagotchis degrade without human interaction and humans are distressed if their Tamagotchis degrade.
TESTIMONIES OF THE TAMAGOTCHI EFFECT
Before iPhones and Galaxies, before the Nintendo Switch or even the Pokémon Mini, the "it" device to have in your pocket was a Tamagotchi. The little plastic eggs, which contained the world’s first “digital pet,” trained a generation to love and care for an inanimate object that lived on a small, always-bleeping screen ARIELLE PARDES, SENIOR WRITER FOR WIRED MAGAZINE
The toy creates a real sense of loss and a mourning process. Kids want to nurture and take care of pets -- it gives them a feeling of empowerment and self-importance -- but here the consequences are too high. It's out of control. DR. ANDREW COHEN, PSYCHOLOGIST AT THE DALTON SCHOOL IN MANHATTAN
I can see the Tamagotchi as a teaching tool about pregnancy for young women and men...It could help them understand reality. DR. SYLVIA RIMM, PSYCHOLOGIST AND AUTHOR
They didn't do anything but poop, walk around, age, and die, but we treated those little pixelated pets like family... They were attached to us-literally MELISSA BATCHELOR WARNKE, WRITER FOR VICE MAGAZINE
AN OUTSIDER LOOKING IN by Kea'a Davis "Similar to how nowadays it’s common to let an iPad babysit your child, sometimes I was left to fiddle with a tamagotchi while my would-be babysitter wandered off somewhere else." My perspective on tamagotchi is that of an outsider looking in. I never had my own tamagotchi, though I’d seen my aunts playing with theirs. They never took the time to explain what it was to me, but I remember admiring the colors and thinking that it was quite a cute keychain. Similar to how nowadays it’s common to let an iPad babysit your child, sometimes I was left to fiddle with a tamagotchi while my would-be babysitter wandered off somewhere else. I assume my fiddling interrupted the health of these digital pets. I wonder what the value is of leaving babies to babysit digital babies.
TAMAGOTCHI PETS IN HIGH SCHOOL by Carly Davenport "One word: needy. It beeps whenever it’s in need of something (which is more often than I’d like)." I actually got my first tamagotchi in highschool when my friend convinced me to try it and let me borrow one of theirs. The first two weeks it was cute. The third week it showed me why I don’t want to have children-- One word: needy. It beeps whenever it’s in need of something (which is more often than I’d like). You can’t neglect it; if you don’t feed it regularly or give it medicine when it’s sick, it either will become one of the uglier evolutions because you waited too long or die and make you start over. If it dies from neglect, well, way to go. If it was real, you’d be in prison right now. However, I will admit it was interesting to watch an entire lifecycle unfold in a matter of weeks. From starting out with an egg, to watch your tamagotchi grow from a child to an adult, getting married, getting old, and then dying and restarting the whole process again was a memorable experience.
FIRST PET EXPERIENCES by Sophie Kim "Why was I upset even though I clearly did not spend enough time taking care of my pet?... Why did I form such a strong emotional attachment to pets that I barely paid attention to?"
One day when I came to elementary school I saw that my friend was carrying around a weird egg shaped device all day. She told me it was a Tamagotchi and described it as, “a mini computer where you take care of a pet.” That weekend I went to the toy store and got one for myself (or rather asked my parents nicely to buy me one). I was so excited about my new “pet” for the first day. I was there for every beep it made, whether it was indicating that it needed its poop picked up or wanted me to play a game with it. However once I had to go back to school I started ignoring its constant beeping, leaving it in my backpack except for the few times I decided to use the visit feature to play with my friends’ Tamagotchis. This was exciting. I remember always being jealous of older kids who had phones, but now I had my own form of digital connection. Besides these moments however I really neglected my pet. When I came back to my Tamagotchi in a few days I found that it had transformed from a cute baby into a not so cute adult and I was extremely upset about it. Why was I upset even though I clearly did not spend enough time taking care of my pet? I remember this being the same case for my other real pets as well. I would always forget to feed my Betta fish despite my parents constantly reminding me and later find myself crying about having to flush it down the toilet. Why did I form such a strong emotional attachment to pets that I barely paid attention to?
Get to know the Tamagotchi! Is it good design? AN ANALYSIS BASED ON THE DEFINITION OF GOOD DESIGN FROM "OBJECTIFIED"
Innovative? A virtual pet, seemingly real Allows children the experience of owning a pet without actually having one Creates a complex experience with a simple interface
Aesthetic? Round shape, comfortable to hold Comes in multiple designs/colors so you can pick your favorite Decorative, can hang off your backpack Cute graphics/interface, pet does cute things
Makes the product useful? Compact and convenient, can be carried around easily so that it can be taken care of at any time Provides comfort and entertainment at home or on the go
Long-lived? Sturdy, can be dropped and still be fine, long battery life, replaceable battery Also part of long-lived cultural impacts like the emotional connection to toys/electronics
Understandable? All the icons are on the screen and relevant to the function of the icon, making it easy to know what each does The pet reacts in ways that make clear its satisfaction/dissatisfaction- when it's sick it has a skull icon, when itâ€™s happy it smiles or jumps, etc., makes sounds when it needs something Iconography is very intuitive and simple, doesnâ€™t require much written language Kids (and adults) can experience responsibilities that come with taking care of a real pet
Unobtrusive? Small and compact At the same time, there were lots of complaints from school teachers about how it was disruptive in class: The Greenville Elementary School in Edgemont, N.Y., banned Tamagotchi last week after third graders who were taking a standardized test put down their pencils to feed the pet. "The children were more concerned with the toy than with succeeding in the test," -NY Times, “Tamagotchi: Love It, Feed It, Mourn It”
Who knew you could do so much with only three buttons?!?!
Consistent in every detail? Very cleanly made We couldn’t find any inconsistencies in its design choices, seemed to all support its function
Dismantled! As little design as possible? Only has three buttons, the rest of the functionality was put onto the screen interface rather than having separate buttons for every function. The buttons allow you to toggle through the functions, turn the volume on/off, and play the games. The picture of the dismantled tamagotchi shows that it didn’t really take much to make a tamagotchi. It came alive in its coding and digital functionality, which minimizes the amount of physical design necessary. Even the digital interface is minimalistic, just enough for the user to easily see all the possible functions. All based on simple, universal icons
Environmentally friendly? Not really Probably mass produced in factories not considerate of emissions and waste since tamagotchi started in 1996
POSTTAMAGOTCHI SOCIETY “Our phones are an abusive, demanding, and needy digital entity; a Tamagotchi for the modern age." Tamagotchis have effectively been replaced by phones. Both are small handheld digital devices that command the user's attention. The difference is that cell phones are more universal; they are easily updated with a person’s latest preferred apps and newest technology. We were constantly attending to the beeps and pixel graphics of our Tamagotchi pets. And although the Tamagotchi craze has died down, we are still doing the same thing. We treat our phones as we would a pet or even a child. We need to pay constant attention to their energy levels and go out of our way to find wall outlet spaces to charge them. Every audible notification is a cry for our attention. We feed them with our personal data and energy. We mourn when they die. Some even refer to their phones as their baby. Tom Goodwin, the EVP of Innovation at Zenith Media, describes “Our newfangled Tamagotchi pets are more than creatures to keep alive: They’re the incarnate of our digital persona, the one we feel the need to nurture and grow. They’re a personal brand, a virtual ego, our best self, the highlight reel of the highlight reel, us on a good day—every day. Our very existence is slowly morphing into this digital entity, a whole new being to breed and support.”
WORKS CITED Goodwin, Tom. “Your Smartphone Is 2017's Version of a Tamagotchi.” Quartz, Quartz, 11 Aug. 2017, qz.com/1050996/your-smartphone-is2017s-version-of-a-tamagotchi/. Lawson, Carol. “Tamagotchi: Love It, Feed It, Mourn It.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 22 May 1997, movies2.nytimes.com/library/cyber/week/052297gadget.html. Pardes, Arielle. “Tamagotchi Have Returned to Bewitch a New Generation.” Wired, Conde Nast, 13 May 2019, www.wired.com/story/tamagotchi-on-price-release-date/. “Tamagotchi.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 12 Nov. 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamagotchi. “Tamagotchi Effect.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 16 June 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamagotchi_effect. Uranaka, Taiga. “Tamagotchi's Rebirth Sparking New Sales Binge.” The Japan Times, The Japan Times LTD., 27 May 2005, www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2005/05/27/business/tamagotchis-rebirthsparking-new-sales-binge/#.XcECrJpKjZs. Warnke, Melissa Batchelor. “Why We Were Addicted to Our Tamagotchis.” Vice, 19 July 2015, www.vice.com/en_us/article/dp574m/in-praise-oftamagotchi-683.
IMAGE SOURCES Alexander, Julia. “Tamagotchi Will Make Its Return in a World That Doesn't Understand or Need It.” Polygon, Polygon, 10 Oct. 2017, https://www.polygon.com/2017/10/10/16449938/tamagotchi-release2017-price-date. Farokhmanesh, Megan. “The Tamagotchi Is Back, but Does It Need to Be?” The Verge, The Verge, 10 Oct. 2017, https://www.theverge.com/2017/10/10/16430134/tamagotchi-pet-bandaiamerica-nostalgia. “Rainbow Tamagotchi.” Amazon, https://www.amazon.com/Tamagotchi045557428051-Electronic-Game-Rainbow/dp/B07DFDYVYN/ref=sr_1_3? crid=1SLY1BDC2Y5OS&keywords=tamagotchi&qid=1572626258&sprefix= tamaogotchi,aps,260&sr=8-3. Saadan, Andrea. “5 Facts You Never Knew about Everyone's Favourite Virtual Pet, Tamagotchi.” AsiaOne, AsiaOne, 11 Oct. 2017, https://www.asiaone.com/world/5-facts-you-never-knew-abouteveryones-favourite-virtual-pet-tamagotchi.“Tamagotchi P1 Guide.” Tamagotchi P1 Guide, http://rorystamalog.blogspot.com/p/tamagotchip1-guide.html.“Tamagotchi Series 4 Game.” Urban Outfitters, Urban Outfitters, https://www.urbanoutfitters.com/shop/tamagotchi-series-4-game. “Tamagotchi Tech Specs.” Tamagotchi Tech Specs, http://tama.loociano.com/.“Toys of the Nineties.” In The 90s, http://www.inthe90s.com/toys/tamagotchi0.shtml.
The 11th artifact.