I Bought A Tamagotchi As An Adult

Photo: BFA/REX/Shutterstock.
For kids of the '90s, 1996 was a superstar toy year. It was the year that McDonald's gave away mini Beanie Babies in Happy Meals; Lisa Frank was in her prime; and, perhaps most importantly, the Tamagotchi craze hit the U.S.

The idea behind the little plastic toy (billed as "the original virtual pet") was simple. Hatch your onscreen animal from an egg and then, using the toy's three buttons, feed it, clean up when it takes a shit, give it medicine when it's sick, and play with it. Forget to do these things, and it dies.

I never got into Tamagotchis in their heyday. I think my parents grouped them in the same category as Furbies: creepy; makes annoying beeping sounds; will drive us insane. So I missed out. And I doubt Tamagotchis would have ever even crossed my mind again had it not been for this year's Met Gala, where they made a very unlikely comeback as accessories for Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom. The red carpet appearance created a serious buzz around the all-but-forgotten proto-tech toy.

I decided then that I had to get one. I needed to see what I had missed out on as a kid.

Thanks to the magic of the internet, it's easy to find one from a third-party seller on Amazon. My $17 Tamagotchi arrived in a few days. I put in the batteries, picked which egg to hatch, and waited impatiently for my "friend" to be born onscreen.

And within a few minutes, I wanted my Tamagotchi to die a speedy death.

This wasn't a "friend," like the rainbow- and heart-adorned packaging promised. This was a whiny, digitized blob that ran back and forth across the screen and constantly demanded that I feed it, give it attention, feed it some more, and then it pouted when I wasn't timely in disposing of its waste. I'd never encountered something so annoyingly needy.

Are you kidding me? How did anyone ever deal with these things? They aren't even cute: The small screen makes it difficult to see any specific features beyond a poorly pixelated black image, and its beeping noises are in no way endearing. And, blame the millennial in me, but it felt tedious to push buttons to get to its food and attention settings rather than just tapping the screen for the action.

I was overjoyed when my Tamagotchi finally fell asleep that first night at 8 p.m. But in the morning, bright and early at 8 a.m. (on a Sunday, mind you), it was complain-beeping again. "I'm hungry!" It said. "Shut up!" I said back. It was momentarily quiet, but then began beeping in rapid succession until I gave in and fed it some bread.

After two days of this nonsense — my Tamagotchi whining, me doing the bare minimum to shut it up and keep it alive — I decided it had to end. I murdered my Tamagotchi. Rather, I took out its batteries and will never, ever put them back in.

I'm not exactly sure what I expected from my toy pet relationship, but this failed attempt certainly wasn't it. I had originally planned to care for my Tamagotchi for at least a week, not a measly two days. I thought maybe it would have become my new BFF.

On the one hand, I felt a little relieved: I clearly did not miss out on anything, and my childhood wasn't scarred by lacking this kind of companion. At the same time, the competitor in me wanted to succeed at the task of keeping my creature alive and earning points — if not for bragging rights, then for personal satisfaction.

Maybe things would have been different if I was still 6, or maybe it's just that Tamagotchis are meant to stay in the graveyard of '90s toys. If you look at today's kids, they're on iPads at the age of 3, deftly playing colorful, touchscreen games rather than the clunky, monochrome ancestors that I grew up with. Toys have evolved with the times, and a Tamagotchi seems far too outdated to kick it with the cool, app kids.

I think it's safe to say that even with Orlando Bloom and Katy Perry's support, Tamagotchis won't be making a strong comeback anytime soon. After all, if you think I was a bad caretaker, I'll have you know that Orlando Bloom didn't clean up after his "friend," either.

But if you don't believe me... Anyone want to buy a Tamagotchi? Otherwise, it'll be stashed in a dusty drawer for eternity.

Editor's Note: The author insists that she would never treat a real pet this way. She is obsessed with her dog, as any of her friends will attest.
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