A few weeks ago, I bid for an original, 1996-1997 Tamagotchi on eBay. It’s the same kind I had as a second grader, and I was curious what it would be like to try to “raise” this “cyber pet” as an adult in 2014.
After replacing the battery (an arduous journey in itself), I pulled the tag out and hatched an egg. I named my Tamagotchi Jennifer. She’s now ten days old and I carry her wherever I go, trying to remember to take care of her when I can. Every couple hours, I feed her, clean her poop, play games with her, turn off her light when she’s sleeping, and discipline her when she acts out (yeah, “disciplining”—no one remembers that particularly fascinating and bizarre mechanic).
A big part of this ongoing experiment has been me tweeting about her life, which is an absolutely ridiculous and obnoxious thing to do, but the act of creating a narrative around this strange thing has made me feel more invested in what happens to her. It’s also been interesting to see the reactions of other people to this experiment, which range from “what the fuck are you doing” to visceral nostalgia to intrigue (mostly from game designers or people who are into internet art).
She’ll die. Maybe soon. I actually have no idea when, but I think some existential doubt will start appearing in her Twitter feed as they begin entering my own mind.
If you want to follow along in Jennifer’s life story, you can do so here.