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What is a Tamagotchi?

A Tamagotchi is a small egg-shaped digital handheld pet that was created by Akihiro Yokoi., and Aki Maita od Bandai Co. in Japan. Over 76 million Tamagotchis have been sold all over the world. When you get your new Tamagotchi and first turn it on it, it is only an egg. Then, over time, your little pet will appear on the screen and you will find out if it is a boy or girl. You then get to pick a name between 5 and 8 characters to give to your pet. The purpose of the game is to take care of your pet and fulfill its needs. You have to feed it, play games to keep it happy, punish it for bad behavior, turn the lights off when it goes to bed, give it medicine when it is sick and make sure that it keeps a healthy weight. If you do not take care of your Tamagotchi, it will result in its death.

How to Play Tamagotchi?

Upon removing the tag of a Tamagotchi unit, an egg will appear on the screen. After setting the Tamagotchi unit's clock, the Tamagotchi will hatch after several seconds, after which the player will be told of its gender and will be given the opportunity to give it a name, which can be 5 to 8 characters in length. From then on, the player is given the task of raising the Tamagotchi to good health throughout its life and attending to its needs, such as feeding it, playing games to make the Tamagotchi happy and keep it at a healthy weight, cleaning up its excrement, punishing or praising the Tamagotchi based on its actions, returning it to proper health with medicine if it gets sick, and shutting off the lights when it goes to bed. If the Tamagotchi is left uncared for, it will soon result in the death of the Tamagotchi.

As time passes, the Tamagotchi will evolve through various stages (Baby, Toddler/Child, Teenager, Adult, and Senior), the results varying based on the gender of the Tamagotchi, its current generation, and on the player's actions. A Tamagotchi that has been cared for well enough will result in a better and a well-mannered Tamagotchi, while excessive poor care will instead result in a Tamagotchi that requires much more attention and often does not behave well. Upon reaching a specific age and friendship level with another Tamagotchi, the player's Tamagotchi will be able to mate with another Tamagotchi of the opposite gender, usually arranged by an elderly Tamagotchi known as "the Matchmaker" or "Mrs. Busybody". Once the two Tamagotchis mate successfully, the female produces two infant Tamagotchis, one which is kept by the father, and the other by the mother. After 24 hours pass, the parent leaves the baby, starting a brand new generation.

How does this relate to our class?

We have talked a lot about whether robots can be accepted as human beings in class. A Tamagotchi a good example of how kids can accept a robot and take care of it as if it was a real animal. If they don't have time to check on it, kids will get worried about its Tamagotchi's health and if it dies, kids can get really sad. This shows how humans can have emotional feeling towards a robot or a mechanical device. A Tamagotchi does not look like a human being or an animal at all. This could be the reason that we do not think it is creepy to be around. Furthermore, because it seams to be small and confined, most people would not think of it right away as being intelligent. However once people get used to them it becomes apparent how much these little creatures do.

Sherry Turkle

Sherry Turkle's newest book, Alone Together, addresses how children connect with toys that simulate having minds of their own, such as a Tamagotchi or a Furby. Turkle warns how simulating an emotional connection between a child and a robotic being can be detrimental to a child's emotional development after prolonged exposure. Studies using Kimset, an interactive robot, yielded some interesting results when the robot broke down, convincing a young girl who was interacting with it at the time that it did not like her. She became sullen and withdrawn, and this was just one extreme example of the ethical issues Turkle felt were raised by the project, "the ethics of exposing a child to a sociable robot whose technical limitations make it seem uninterested in the child". She defends the research, but warns that allowing our children to invest emotions into a relationship that "can never deliver" could have detrimental effects on how they view relationships in general, especially as they begin to make friends and develop relationships with human beings outside the immediate family.

Source: http://chronicle.com/article/Programmed-for-Love-The/125922/


1. http://www.bandai.com/tamagotchi

2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamagotchi

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