The Tamagotchi in its many forms has never shied away from death
April 7, 2021 8:37 AM   Subscribe

A Very 90s Death: The Tamagotchi Cemetery (Burials And Beyond): While many parents bought their offspring Tamagotchis as toys, others thought that a child taking responsibility for a digital creature would be an ideal pre-pet investment, to see if they were mature enough to understand the needs of another living thing. While this is an ideal moralistic exercise, what occurred in reality was a pocket of brief generational trauma where young children woke up to find that, after sleeping though muted midi cries of hunger at 3am, their new toy had perished overnight. You killed your first pet. This culpability for death is one of the strangest qualities in toy history; even the death of shoals of Sea Monkeys failed to elicit such a primal reaction of grief and blame from the very young. In the new world of portable digital pets, they were expected to entertain, but not truly die. posted by not_the_water (30 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
My anxiety went through the ROOF with that thing. I was working in a suburban mall, and as a friendless little weirdo, I thought getting one would make me "fit in". Spent my own money on that freaking sucker and it gave me so much angst that I basically invented buyers remorse all over again. Ewwwww. No. 0/10
posted by lextex at 9:04 AM on April 7 [8 favorites]

Also unlike a goldfish you couldn't just flush it down the toilet when it died. Although I'm sure some people did.
posted by aspersioncast at 9:09 AM on April 7

A university frind of mine let his Tamagotchi die on purpose and then carried the thing around on a chain like an antique pocket watch, all of which I was very impressed by.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:12 AM on April 7 [1 favorite]

Man. I thought that I was a crouton-petter but even I never considered holding a funeral for my Tamagotchi.

I had one in high school and it caused me anxiety as well. My friend Karin had one that got lost somewhere in her bedroom. I was over at her place studying and every once in a while we'd hear a tinny "I'm hungry!" come from some corner of the room. She laughed and said "oh I'm starving it to death" and I felt like I was friends with some sort of homicidal maniac.
posted by Gray Duck at 9:12 AM on April 7 [22 favorites]

Excellent and relevant comment story from ages past: Nattie's 2011 Shelby story.
When I came across Shelby later in a box, I literally felt sick with guilt, just leaving him in there. When my husband saw what I was holding, his face just drained and he let out a panicked, "FUCK!" and tried to leave the room, but I wouldn't let him.

posted by Glinn at 9:30 AM on April 7 [6 favorites]

Both of our kids went through their Tamagotchi phase. I never really understood the attraction myself. I know they eventually lost interest and let the damned things die.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:37 AM on April 7

Our family discovered that if you went into the time setting menu, the Tamagotchi was paused. It could live indefinitely in there until you were ready to play again.

Find the shortest path.
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 10:16 AM on April 7 [21 favorites]

I'm a completely obsessed Tamagotchi collector. In fact, I opened this tab alongside like 4 tabs from /r/tamagotchi. There are dozens of us! Dozens!

The technology has simultaneously come a long way and stayed exactly the same through the new color models.
posted by fiercecupcake at 10:25 AM on April 7 [8 favorites]

I get upset if I forget to feed my Nekoatsume cats, and they just go elsewhere....
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:30 AM on April 7 [5 favorites]

Lost it in my closet and it beeped for ages before dying. (I think "dying" here might mean the battery.)
posted by grandiloquiet at 11:00 AM on April 7

There was a great joke on Schitt’s Creek where Alexis and David are still arguing over how his tamagotchi died while she was babysitting them. “You left me with six! Caring for them was a full time job!”
I have a knee-jerk reaction to new tech gadgets and toys, I get stressed about getting them even when I know I will eventually like them. I wonder if I could trace that feeling back to tamagotchi?
posted by areaperson at 11:14 AM on April 7 [6 favorites]

I had a MOPy Fish. I went on vacation and forgot to turn off my computer. It was like losing a real pet. Along with feeling stupid for feeling that feeling.
posted by Devoidoid at 11:29 AM on April 7 [2 favorites]

I have a similar sense of loss and guilt when my characters die in the various survival video games I play.

Oh, so you've managed to keep the whole household alive and fed through sixty grueling days of "This War of Mine", but then made a careless decision to try to scavenge for food in a building occupied by armed soldiers and got killed? And then the rest of the household got traumatized because of the loss? And then, because you weren't there to help defend the household three nights later, raiders ended up taking all of your food and wounding another member of the group? Etc., etc.

Or when you have to let the family dog starve to death in "Sheltered" because there isn't enough food to keep the people alive...
posted by darkstar at 11:38 AM on April 7

Sounds more like a Traumagotchi then.
posted by pwnguin at 11:40 AM on April 7 [35 favorites]

That is inspired, pwnguin!
posted by darkstar at 11:47 AM on April 7

I remember a few of my more unusual friends in University being obsessed with them when they came out and later with tamagothi when that came around. Tamagothi is less funny now of course given the subject matter (suicide, drugs, abuse etc) but was absurd enough to appeal to a bunch of actual goths at the time.
posted by cirhosis at 12:45 PM on April 7 [1 favorite]

Metafilter: The technology has simultaneously come a long way and stayed exactly the same through the new color models
posted by eckeric at 1:05 PM on April 7 [15 favorites]

Metafilter: absurd enough to appeal to a bunch of actual goths at the time
posted by gimonca at 1:37 PM on April 7 [12 favorites]

Can't help but wonder if someone is carefully noting down the locations of these abandoned tamagotchi cemeteries and setting an ebay price alert against the day that a bit of low-consequence grave robbing might prove lucrative. Tamagothis, indeed.
posted by phooky at 1:44 PM on April 7 [2 favorites]

[Screaming at real estate developer against crescendo of bleeps and bloops] You son of a bitch! You moved the cemetery, but you left the bodies!
posted by phooky at 1:49 PM on April 7 [16 favorites]

This took me back. I remember the terrible, sleepless nights, plagued by dreams that my digital pet had passed away while I was asleep, almost exactly as the article described. My brush with this phenomenon was the moment I began to experience the anxiety that laid me low me for much of my childhood and teenage years.

It got so bad I ended up giving it away to another child I met at a birthday party. It never even died on me once - I just couldn’t cope with that moment. I felt a different kind of misery then, like I was passing on a witch’s curse. I was probably also establishing the pattern of fear avoidance that had something to do with my alcoholism and drug use in my 20s.

The sad thing is, it wasn’t even a real Tamagotchi. You couldn’t find them for love nor money at the time, so may parents bought me a knock off.
posted by Probabilitics at 3:46 PM on April 7 [5 favorites]

In the mid 2000s I built a virtual pet inspired by tamagotchi, a little toy on the web. People loved it while it lasted. People sent me death threats when it was discontinued.

Now that my kid is getting into tablet games I had to have The Talk. Not that one or the other one, the one about predatory software companies that abuse good things like kindness and empathy and dopamine to foster addiction and turn a profit.

We grieved for the unicorn that would cost $2.99 to resurrect, and the dragon will not get a bigger habitat.

I should name the little house I built on the land I bought with the money from that app I made 15 years ago "Crouton Petter Cottage" or something.
posted by Dr. Curare at 4:45 PM on April 7 [7 favorites]

In the new world of portable digital pets, they were expected to entertain, but not truly die.

that is not dead which can eternal lie

and after strange aeons even death may die

T̸͙̓ ̶̘̾A̸͖̔ͅ ̸̜̊M̶̮̼̂ ̴̥͉̀͋Â̶̯̊ ̴̖̋̀G̶̤̓ ̵̲̞͌O̵̢͋̓ ̵̨̆T̴͍̠́ ̶͚̳͝Ḫ̷̛̖ ̷͈́̀Ũ̶͉̚ ̴̬̐̑L̶͙͚̈ ̷̬͖̊H̷̬̒ ̶̙̓U̶̫͑̀
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:04 PM on April 7 [10 favorites]

We grieved for the unicorn that would cost $2.99 to resurrect
Possible title for a Philip K Dick novel. The movie would be called Infinite Edge or some nonsense like that of course.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 6:12 PM on April 7 [9 favorites]

I can only think that what happened to Tamagotchis does not bode well for those who choose to upload their consciousness in order to live forever, should we ever develop that technology.
posted by nubs at 8:06 PM on April 7 [10 favorites]

The movie would be called Infinite Edge or some nonsense like that of course.

Tamagotchi Insurrection: Rise of the Forsaken
posted by fairmettle at 11:26 PM on April 7 [4 favorites]

I had one briefly and lost interest in a couple days. Fortunately the cheap batteries led it to die not long after.
posted by bendy at 4:39 AM on April 8

So in the wake of the pandemic, all kinds of nostalgia has been appreciating steadily in price. My Little Pony prices and Pokemon cards, for example. Tamagotchi has not been spared. Y'all joke about digging up the cemetery, but if they were Connection models and not P1/P2s, it probably would have been done already.

Here's a great article written mid-year last year about the Tama economy. It was done by someone who's a collector and known in the community, so unlike a lot of other articles, there aren't inaccuracies all over the place.

Seriously, models I could buy for $20 or $30 early last year are now regularly selling for $100+. And prices for the Tamagotchi P's have gone from ~$80 to $200+. It's getting ridiculous. Even the Japanese Yahoo Auctions sellers have caught on, though prices there are still not as high as in the US.
posted by fiercecupcake at 7:21 AM on April 8

The movie would be called Infinite Edge or some nonsense like that of course.

We Can Revive It for You Retail
posted by rhizome at 10:21 AM on April 8 [4 favorites]

I remember having one as a child, and then the teacher took it away because it was a distraction and put it in a box. Then for the rest of the day I had to hear it slowly beep to death in the box... ToT

What's interesting is back then I would hear adults get worried that Tamagotchi would diminish a child's ability to take care of pets/children because they'd grow up to think you can just take care of a pet/baby by pushing a button, but really the reverse occurred and it's the soulless digital pet that we became emotionally invested in.
posted by picklenickle at 7:35 PM on April 9 [2 favorites]

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