damn Tamagotchis not dead yet. Its a beautiful, sunny October
day, and Ive sneaked home from work early to revel in the demise
of my inane virtual petto ceremoniously bury it deep in the kitchen
garbage can, then throw a celebratory wake. But no, there it is, happily
waddling back and forth on the palm-sized screen, oblivious to my overt
attempts to cut short its virtual life.
course, its not waddling far, owing to the steaming heaps of Tamagotchi
excrement Ive allowed to collect on the screen and the large skull
symbol hovering menacingly overhead. Were I a caring virtual parent, Id
see that as a sign that the little fellow is sick and in desperate need
cursory glance at the Tamagotchis health-o-meter lets me know that
its nearly starving to death and deeply unhappyas it should
be, since Ive purposely not fed it, cleaned it, played with it,
or even let it sleep for a good 48 hours now. Still, the damn thing wont
tried everything, too, mind you. Cramming food down the critters
virtual gullet continuously until it expanded from 5 to 99 pounds in a
five-minute period, turning the lights off in the middle of the day and
on in the still of the night, shocking it repeatedly and for no good reason
with the gizmos "discipline" functionseemingly none
of these heinous acts diminished the varmints virtual joie de
vivre. Ive screamed at it, insulted it, and done everything
in my power to erode its self-esteem and will to virtually live, all for
naught. Letting my actual pet, a hyperactive adolescent tomcat, have a
go at it did no good either. All that batting, gnawing, clawing, hissing,
screeching, and slobbering, and then
now that malevolent neglect seems to be failing, I simply dont know
what to do, where to turn. I realize I could crush the thing like a bug,
smash it until its microprocessors were reduced to so much house dust,
but that would be cheating. And though Im a virtual homicidal maniac
right now, I do have my ethics. No, Ill just have to wait patiently
for the thing to give up, for the elixir of starvation, toxic environment,
psychic abuse, and play deprivation Ive concocted for it to cast
its lethal spell.
Stick a Fork in Mork
the irony thats killing me. For I didnt start out this way,
bucking to commit a virtual felony like voluntary Tamagotchi-slaughter.
I had nothing but the best intentions, plans to provide for the little
cyber creature to the best of my ability.
been interested in Tamagotchis from the moment the little Japanese imports
hit our shores back in May of 1997. These virtual petsor "lovable
eggs" as their name directly translateshad taken the Japanese
youth market by storm, so the hype had it, the hottest thing since Ultraman.
Like so many others of the post-Space Invaders generation, Im instantly
fascinated by video-game technology, and so was more than mildly curious.
Plus, I love petsthe more the merrier. And the idea of reaping all
the love and affection without the veterinarian bills, Science Diet expense,
and compounded litterbox output was appealing.
I probably wouldnt have invested my $5 had not my clever PopCult
editor seen the potential humor in having a now firmly mid-30s single
career gal with no prospects of marriage or desire for family life (despite
the wheedling pleas of her near-desperate mother) appease the assumed
urgings of her biological clock by writing a tongue-in-cheek account of
her experiences as a "virtual mommy." Ha.
accepted, I underwent a blissful virtual pregnancy, one in which my cheeks
glowed as I ran from store to store in search of a genuine, Bandai-produced
Tamagotchi, my complexion radiant under the fluorescent lights. This task
proved more difficult than Id imaginedsurely Toys R Us cut-out
bins would be brimming over with Tamagotchi bargains, I reasoned, the
cultural groundswell having crested a good two years ago.
the original trendsetter had apparently been hunted to extinction by Nintendos
Pokémon Pikachu, an infinitely less charming, yellow ovoid-encased
virtual entity whose primary interactive features involve counting your
steps as you walk and letting you know how it "feels" about
your relationship with itbased in large part on how many times youve
hefted your lard-ass around the block. Burn lots of calories, receive
love; sit through one Ally McBeal rerun too many, and earn the cute lil
critters contempt. What could be less endearing to a mid-life Bridget
Jones wannabe already keenly aware of the vicious natural cycle of waning
metabolism and waxing gravitational-pull?
I needed the original electronic pet in order to find true fulfillment.
Thankfully, the Tamagotchilike Cabbage Patch Dolls, Tickle Me Elmos,
and Earring Magic Kens before itenjoy an extended life via the geek-fueled
secondary market that is the World Wide Web. After a quick search on the
web, I found several devotional homepages to the beloved Tamagotchi, from
cutesy shrines to academic thesis papersapparently, it still occupies
the hearts and minds of those with lots of time and few social outlets.
I was able to procure one on ebay.com, "mint in box," and soon
set out to become a mommy.