The Tamagotchi (たまごっち, 拓麻歌子) [tamaɡotꜜtɕi] is a handheld digital pet, created in Japan by Akihiro Yokoi (ja) of WiZ and Aki Maita[citation needed] of Bandai. It was released by Bandai on November 23, 1996 in Japan and May 1997 in the rest of the world, quickly becoming one of the biggest toy fads of the 1990s and early 2000s. Up until 2010, over 76 million Tamagotchis had been sold worldwide.[1] As of 2017, over 82 million units have been sold.[2] Most Tamagotchi are housed in a small egg-shaped computer with an interface usually consisting of three buttons, although the number of buttons may vary.

According to Bandai, the name is a portmanteau combining the two Japanese words tamago (たまご), which means "egg", and the end of "watch".[3] Consequently, the name is sometimes romanized as "Tamagotch" without the "i" in Japan. Most Tamagotchi characters' names end in chi (ち) in Japanese, with few exceptions.

Tamagotchi was invented by Aki Maita for which she won the 1997 Ig Nobel Prize for economics.[4][5] Tamagotchi is a keychain-sized virtual pet simulation game. The characters are colorful and simplistically designed creatures based on animals, objects, or people. Beginning with the 2004 Tamagotchi Plus/Connection, a second wave of Tamagotchi toys emerged, featuring a different graphic design by JINCO[6] and gameplay which elaborated upon the first generations.

However, the story behind the games remained the same: Tamagotchis are a small alien species that deposited an egg on Earth to see what life was like, and it is up to the player to raise the egg into an adult creature.[7] The creature goes through several stages of growth, and will develop differently depending on the care the player provides, with better care resulting in an adult creature that is smarter, happier, and requires less attention. Gameplay can vary widely between models, and some models, such as TamagoChu, require little to no care from the player.

Upon activating the toy, an egg appears on the screen. After setting the Tamagotchi unit's clock, the egg will wiggle for several minutes, and then hatch into a small pet. In later versions, inputting the player's name and birthday is also required when setting the clock, and at birth, the player can name the pet and learn of its family group and/or gender. The player can care for the pet as much or as little as they choose, and the outcome depends on the player's actions. The first Tamagotchis could only be paused by going to set the clock, effectively stopping the passage of time in the game, but in later models a pause function was included.

Pets have a Hunger meter, Happy meter, Bracelet meter and Discipline meter to determine how healthy and well behaved the pet is. There is also an age and weight check function for the current age and weight of the pet. Filling up the Hunger meter can be achieved by feeding the pet a meal (usually a loaf of bread) or a snack (usually a piece of candy). Filling up the Happy meter can be achieved by playing mini games with the pet or by feeding it a snack (there are no limits to this, but there are limits to how many meals can be fed). 

If the pet gets sick, a skull icon appears next to the pet as it sits still at the bottom of the screen, with an unhappy expression. The pet can become sick for a number of reasons such as overfeeding of snacks or failing to clean up droppings. The pet can die if sickness is left unchecked. The pet can be cured by pressing the "Medicine" option. Usually a pet will not play or be fed a meal when sick.

Pets would often fall asleep during the night time. Originally players had the option of manually turning off the light when the pet fell asleep (it would turn on the light by itself when it awoke). In order to raise a healthy pet, players were encouraged but not required to turn off the lights when the pet fell asleep. In recent versions, the pet turns off the light on its own when it went to sleep. Recent versions also allow waking the pet for a short time once it has fallen asleep. V5 had the three children look outside on the window when they wake up in the morning and before bed at night.

Life Cycle


The pet goes through several distinct stages of development throughout its life cycle. Each stage lasts a set amount of time, depending on the model of the toy, and when it reaches a new stage, the toy plays a jingle, and the pet's appearance changes. The pet can "die" due to poor care, old age, sickness, and in a few versions, predators. The pets life cycle stages are Baby, Child, Teen, and Adult. Later Tamagotchi models have added a Senior model. Usually the pet's age will increase once it has awakened from its sleep time.

Poor care can cause a pet to die, but it can also die of old age. If an old pet dies without producing offspring, the family line has ended. The Japanese Tamagotchi toys usually feature a ghost and headstone when the pet dies, but English language versions have been changed to show an angel at death, or simply a floating UFO to indicate its return to its home planet. Often at times it will show the transition graphic, after which it will show the pet appearing to be sick, but with the skull flashing, beeping as it flashes. It then will show a happy version of the pet flashing with a longer beep, with an egg on the right side of the screen, after which it will show the pet as an angel (as indicated above). Pressing the middle button shows the age at which the pet died. After the pet dies, one can restart from the beginning by pressing A and C.

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