What are Tamagotchi?

Tamagotchi devices, retro and modern

Tamagotchi gets its name for the Japanese word for egg, “tamago”, and “watch”. It also sounds remarkably similar to the word for friend, “tomodachi”. The virtual pets were first released in Japan in 1996 and came to the West in 1997.

While Tamagotchis have gone through many iterations, many share the basic mechanic of caring for a digital pet and keeping it healthy for as long as possible.


Most of the time, gameplay revolves around caring for the creature within the device, called a Tamagotchi. More advanced releases added new elements which increased the complexity of game.

The latest Tamagotchi devices include color screens and the ability to generate unique characters based on their mother and father’s physical characteristics.