- Danielle Page had been quarantining alone in her small apartment in New York City for six weeks when she was inspired by her cousin to buy a Tamagotchi.
- “I bought one thinking it’d simply make me happy, but it also surprisingly made me more productive, and helped me get my sleep schedule back on track,” said Page.
- If you’re looking for something fun and nostalgic to keep your mind happily occupied during quarantine, Page says a Tamagotchi might just be the perfect choice.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Now seems like the perfect time to open this Tamagotchi I won from a random website a couple years back.
When my cousin Eric posted this Facebook status, I’d been quarantining alone with my cat in our 500-square-foot studio apartment in Queens, New York for about six weeks. By that point, not being able to leave my tiny living space for anything other than a bi-weekly, high-stress grocery store run had begun to have some pretty severe repercussions on my overall mental health, not to mention my productivity levels.
Make no mistake – I’m not complaining. Things could absolutely be worse, and I’m grateful for everything I have right now. But in order for you to understand what drove a 32-year-old adult woman to purchase a kid’s toy from the ’90s, I need to paint an accurate picture of where my head was at.
Somewhere between the third week and one-month mark of lockdown, getting out of bed to face another day of this “new normal” felt impossible. I started latching on to the only part of my day that hadn’t changed since quarantine – the time before bed, when I’d put something on TV and scroll mindlessly through social media until I fell asleep – which was sometimes 2 or 3 in the morning. Then I’d sleep as late as my earliest work meeting would allow, and then spend the rest of the day playing catch-up, working late into the night. I’d rarely leave my desk (which sits in the same room where I sleep, eat, and attempt to exercise these days), save for necessary bathroom breaks and to shove some food down when I remembered to.
In these uncertain times, seeing my cousin’s status made me suddenly certain of one thing: Having a nostalgic toy to play with during all of this would make me happy.
If you didn’t grow up in the ’90s, you might be unaware of what a Tamagotchi is.
A Tamagotchi is a virtual pet that relies on you for food, to clean up its poop, and to turn the lights out when it’s bedtime. You watch it hatch, and it morphs into different forms as it grows. It alerts you to its needs with a high-pitched beeping sound, and makes certain signs to let you know what food it’s in the mood for (either rice or candy).
As it turns out, there are plenty of options on the market if you’re looking to purchase a Tamagotchi in 2020.
Target’s Tamagotchi on Magic ($US49.99) features a completely remastered, vivid world for your virtual pet to play in. Best Buy’s collection of Gen 2 Tamagotchi ($US19.99) includes new games to play with your pet – and updated designs. These were more than I wanted to spend – and I was determined to get as close to the original version as possible without paying vintage prices (an original Tamagotchi goes for upwards of $US60 on eBay). So I placed a bid on a 20th Anniversary series Tamagotchi – a smaller version of the original, for $US7 – and I won.
Winning this Tamagotchi was the most exciting thing to happen to me in months, so I quickly spread the word to family and friends
Overall, reception was positive. Friends sent words of encouragement regarding my ability to keep my Tamagotchi alive for longer than I had when I was a 10-year-old, and we all took some time to reminisce about our childhood experiences with virtual pets.
When I told my mum, her response was, “You’re getting one because Eric has one, aren’t you?” That really made me feel like a kid again, because she was absolutely correct – I wanted the same toy because my cousin had it.
Seeing my Tamagotchi hatch was as exciting as I remembered.
I set my Tamagotchi to the current time of day, which would inform its sleep schedule moving forward. Then, I waited for it to hatch, which was just as thrilling as I remember it being when I was younger. Because my Tamagotchi was just a hatchling, it went to sleep at 8 p.m. that first night. I knew that it’d morph into its next form the following day. I was eager to see that happen, so I actually went to bed early myself for the first time in many weeks.
I had to wake up early to feed the young hatchling.
My Tamagotchi woke me up at 8 a.m. the following morning – it needed to be fed. Unlike my cat, who I could ignore for an hour or so before she’d start knocking things over to get my attention, not feeding my Tamagotchi promptly meant risking its death, so I got up, fed all three of us, and started my day.
My Tamagotchi inspired me to take more short breaks throughout the workday.
Approximately every hour, my Tamagotchi needs something. Instead of just cleaning up poop and continuing with my day, I started making it a point to get up, stretch, and do a lap around my apartment. It was such a small change, but it did wonders to help refocus my attention on the tasks at hand.
It’s been easier to adjust to a healthier sleep schedule since my Tamagotchi’s life depends on it.
As the novelty of my Tamagotchi started to wear off, I knew I’d be tempted to revert to my old sleeping habits – and start testing fate to see how long my Tamagotchi could go without breakfast. I started leaving it on my work desk a few feet away from my bed, so that I’d have to physically get up and start my day once it woke up.
If you want to play with your Tamagotchi, there are even more interactive options available.
One thing my version of Tamagotchi lacks is the ability to play with your pet. In the version I had as a kid, there was a guessing-game option, where I’d have to predict whether the Tamagotchi would turn left or right. My cousin Eric has the PAC-Man Tamagotchi ($US19.99 on Amazon), which basically combines the holy grail of games from my childhood into one. (I kind of wish I’d splurged on that, in retrospect.)
It’s also worth stating the obvious: Tamagotchi is essentially another screen to stare at – something I’m already doing too much these days. But if you need a distraction from coronavirus anxiety, I’d say it’s the perfect tool.
Danielle Page is a New York-based writer, editor, and content strategist. Follow her on Twitter @TheDaniellePage
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