We all had the conversation with our folks at one point, “Mum, can we get a (delete as necessary) cat/dog/rabbit/chipmunk/giraffe/penguin?”, to which you would probably have your request rejected and no pet to play with. Then Tamagotchis entered out lives and you finally had that furry friend to care for.
Ok so it wasn’t furry, just a pixilated version of the particular creature you fancied, but you could still feed it, wash it, play with it, educate it and even give it injections. I think I first learnt what an overdose was after Day 1 with my Tamagotchi, the poor little guy just couldn’t handle the amount of inoculations I forced upon him.
I was skeptical of this craze to start; it just got out of hand. Girls in our school would be caring for their pets during lessons and then burst into floods of tears when their virtual friend snuffed it. Being the pragmatist that I am, I just couldn’t get past the fact that you could just start again seconds later by pressing the reset button.
There were even rumours that some kids in my school took a day off to grieve once little Oscar the digital dog stopped running around after his bone, and once the inevitable banning of the cyber pets hit my classmates they would find a Tamagotchi sitter to ensure their little friend was safe and sound during school hours.
Having two cats and a dog myself I didn’t see the need for a fake animal in my life. But then during the build up to France 98 I was suckered into purchasing anything that had the logo on it as I got excited for the upcoming tournament. Lo and behold I found myself adopting a virtual Footix, the mascot of the tournament.
Footix was a cockerel and like all Tamagotchis he needed all the usual TLC, but he could be taught football skills and could also fly. This blew my mind and I went about making him into the best football-playing cock ever, yes even including Michael Owen.
My poor cats and dogs would feel my neglect and I’m sure one of my cats Maggie tried to attack it once, but Footix was safe in his plastic shell kicking his ball around. Then came the football tournament itself and I got so wrapped up in it I couldn’t give two hoots that my cockerel was dead.
And that was the end of my flirtation with the Japanese craze, but I do miss teaching my pet football skills, as my cats just never quite got the hang of it…
PS: If you stil have a Tamagotchi craving, head here. Enjoy!