20 years ago: Tamagotchi paved the way for virtual pets

20 years ago: Tamagotchi paved the way for virtual pets

(Photo: Joi Ito, CC BY 2.0)

Who still remembers the Tamagotchi? The small keychains you had to feed them? It's been exactly 20 years since they arrived in Germany on the market. For nostalgics it exists today as an app.

The Tamagotchi were in some way forerunners of today, in which all almost always have a smartphone in hand. The small electronic creatures that came in Germany on the market 20 years ago, had to be supplied by users on a regular basis, so they did not run virtually. The idea was a hit in the era of single-cell phones, mobile Nintendo consoles and CD players. about 80 million of the keychain-sized devices from today's perspective hardly usable screen and usually three buttons were sold worldwide. There was a movie, a television series and lots of toys.

Substitute for a real pet

The Tamagotchi came from Japan, "Tamago" is Japanese for "egg", The idea for the toys had the then 30-year-Bandai employees Aki Maita: Many children in Japan want a pet, but in the confines and bustle of Japanese everyday life that is hard to imagine in reality. so they put the tiny alien creatures in a plastic housing. In order for the virtual pets could develop, the owner then had to care for them.

The display indicated whether a Tamagotchi for example, is hungry - then you had to feed it. to play a game with the little fellow, it made her happy. Occasionally, legacies had "put away" be - in other words, it was a bit like having a real pet. Care is not good enough it was a Tamagotchi "Sick" and finally went out.

Pascal Maramis three Tamagotchi(Image:Pascal Maramis, CC BY 2.0 )

Maita wanted to give a favorable opportunity children to experience everyday life with a pet - but non-binding, and at no cost to the vet or feed. She tried the prototypes initially from some 200 girls in Tokyo's Shibuya district. "They immediately got bright eyes"She later recalled.

Cult 90s

Bandai, a leading Japanese game toy companies that had grown up among other things, model cars and action figures that could show its distribution channels. And a few months after the Japan launch in November 1996, the Tamagotchi were in over two dozen countries on the market and brought it to a cult toys of the 90s.

There were also a lot of trouble. So models were the first generations so fast "to die"That children they took to school sometimes. The teachers saw this as distraction and the devices have been banned in some schools, for example, in the US.

Despite attempts to move with the times and make the Tamagotchi for example, communicate with each other they fell in the last decade finally on the siding of the art history. Although the idea of ​​virtual animals - or entire worlds - in simulations such as "Farmville" lived. For Tamagotchi nostalgic there is the little aliens from the original provider Bandai Namco today befitting as an app. (Andrej Sokolow, dpa) /(Mho)