I thought I should expand my horizons a bit with a toy from the 90’s called a Tamagotchi, which was first sold by Bandai in Japan in 1996. It’s essentially a handheld digital pet that’s quite possibly more needy than a real one. When you turn it on for the first time an egg appears and once hatched you need to provide your little friend with everything it needs to survive while tracking the various meters from hunger to happiness. Your pet may require discipline or it might poop all over the screen (a situation which requires immediate attention or your pet will get sick).

I made this doodlewash for Philippe as I didn’t have one of these, and they sound harder to care for than Phineas, but he had two of them when he was younger. His were orange and white and not actually hot pink, but I wanted to try the new Sennelier color he bought me for Christmas called Opera Rose. I like it because you can get such a cool range from subtler pink flesh tones to the crazy pink plastic toy color shown here, enhanced with just a bit of purple in the shadows.

My first experience with a virtual pet was in the mid 80’s when I moved from a Commodore 64 computer to a fancy new Commodore 128. For those unfamiliar, this little beauty had a whopping 128 kb of RAM… yes, you read that correctly. Ridiculous to think about today when smartphones usually have at least 1 million kb of RAM, but the Commodore 128 was super cool back then.

What I loved about this computer was that I could design little characters and make them move around by programming them in BASIC. Yeah, I was a super big geek then and now, but once I discovered I could do this, I immediately attempted to create a virtual pet for myself. I made a little character that looked like a raccoon and designed a three story digital dollhouse for him to live in. Although I had no idea how to code anything resembling artificial intelligence, I realized that randomizing his movements created a sense of surprise at least.

Once completed, you could sit back and enjoy watching the little raccoon do everything including running up to the attic to practice his push ups, sitting on top of the refrigerator for no good reason whatsoever, or even using the toilet. I guess you could say my virtual pet was well before it’s time as the Tamagotchi pets apparently didn’t possess the ability to use a toilet properly.

That said, watching the raccoon do random crap got old after a few minutes, so in this case, Tamagotchi pets were far superior. Unfortunately, my little raccoon friend only worked on that computer so when I and got my first real PC next, he was left behind. Sort of like Puff the Magic Dragon, if instead of a land called Honali he instead, lived inside an old floppy disk that once belonged to a eager young nerd.

About the Doodlewash

M. Graham watercolors: Azo Yellow, Dioxazine Purple, Cobalt Teal, Cobalt Blue, Burnt Sienna and Neutral Tint. Sennelier L’Aquarelle: Opera Rose. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon black ink in a 5″ x 8″ 140 lb. (300 gsm) Pentalic Aqua Journal

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36 thoughts on “Tamagotchi & Virtual Life

  1. Oh my goodness, YES! Those things, who could forget? Love this, Charlie! You’ve done the horrible screen particularly well.

    We each had one of these. Mine was orange, but I love this hot pink! I remember my first ‘pet’ lived to the age of about sixty, then I woke it up one day to a bizarre crucifix with wings animation. The sense of loss was overwhelming – I clung onto hope but my mum confirmed it had died. After that, none of them seemed to live very long at all, and I got tired of it pretty quickly.

    Later of course this keeping irritating and incapable pests alive business took on a whole new form – The Sims. How hilarious that was – the first game, anyway.

    You would have got on well with my brother back in the day; he was obsessed with programming on the Spectrum we had, and always wanted a C64! I tried BASIC (at least, I believe it was BASIC!) in 2011 as part of a university art project, and found it nightmarishly difficult just to create a still, let alone make things move… I bow to the wisdom of young brainbox Charlie. Awesome stuff.

    1. Haha! My brainbox? That’s awesome! Glad you liked this. It was Philippe’s idea as I was too old by the time these came out. But I DID play the SIMS! That was fun! I used to hack the game so I could get more simoleans and build mansions. 😊 I don’t think I’d have to patience to program anything again like that, but at the time I was thoroughly obsessed! Lol

      1. Too old? Pff. I’m sure my mum had one come to think of it, and she was very old in the 90s! 😉

        The Sims 1 was glorious. I remember that rosebud cheat! For some reason the series lost my interest when it went full 3D – it didn’t seem as fun. I used to make everyone flirt and cheat on each other… then, sit back and watch the bitch slaps and brawls break out. Too funny.

  2. Tamagotchis are 20? 😱 That Opera Rose is gorgeous, isn’t it! You’ve done a nice job of capturing the look of the LCD screen too. I remember the C128, but I’ll take your 128k of RAM and, er, lower you – the first home computer I used was a Sinclair ZX-80 with had all of 1k!

  3. Urgh…Tamagotchi pets, I forgot all about those things! We had one, I think it was my daughter and I’m sure we killed it off pretty quickly. I remember finding it in the back of a drawer when she was moving out, I should have tucked it in her bags as a joke!

    Now for your rendering, it’s spot on. I agree, the way you created the screen looks fantastic. Everything is so vibrant!

    1. Thanks so much, Cathe!! 💕😃 I was half way in and thought… How the heck am I going to make that screen look right?! 😊 Glad you like the result. And that’s hilarious!! You totally should have snuck that in her bag. Would have been so funny! But yeah…I’m glad I was a decade off and missed these. Lol

  4. I remember these! Of course I didn’t have one but I remember seeing all the ads.. And OMG, I remember BASIC.. I also learned FORTRAN and C++.. My graduate work was done in FORTRAN! Lol.

    The Opera is gorgeous! Most opera I have seen in other brands have terrible light fastness. How is this one? Your doodlewash is fantastic and you captured the screen!!

    1. Thanks Kari!! 💕😃 I remember starting to try C++ and then stopping. Hehe… Wasn’t until web design and Flash Actionscript before I did anything that resembled coding again. As for Opera Rose, it’s listed as “Not Rated” on Sennelier’s site which I’m guessing means a big no for lightfastness. I’m sure it’s probably okay trapped in a journal, but not sure I’d trust it frame and on the wall. Guess I’ll have to wait and see what happens to it to be sure!

  5. That is an awesome hot pink Tamagotchi! It couldn’t have looked as good in orange and white (sorry, Philippe). 😄

    Heeey! My first computer was a Commodore 64 and my first programming language was BASIC, too (Computer Science 11 in high school before moving on to Fortran and Pascal which I remember exactly nada of).

    Puff the Magic Dragon…hahaha, you crack me up! ❤️😆

    1. Thanks Teresa!! 💕😃 Yeah…I’m thinking the hot pink would have been the only way to go with these! Lol And cool!! I knew you were a fellow geek…errrr… smart person! Pascal…wow…yeah…I vaguely remember looking into that at some point. Then I realized I didn’t have the patience to be a programmer. 😊 hehe

      1. It all befuddled me, I think. 😀 I learned UNIX at a later time and it wasn’t too bad. I found that all the languages helped me pick up HTML easily back in the Geocity days when I had to write my own code. How we have it easy these days with blogging sites like WP that are so user-friendly!

  6. I remember the Tamagotchis. It was all the rage, and my youngest had to have one. It was definitely more needy than a real pet. It died several deaths and faded from being “the thing” fairly quickly as I recall. Yours is so beautiful, it would make a nice statement necklace. (K)

    1. Thanks so much Laura! ❤️😃 This was fun to doodlewash because it was like a problem solving puzzle to figure out how to make the reflections and that darn screen! Lol I don’t think I would have had the patience to keep one alive very long though. And yeah…the Opera Rose if such a fun new color! I can wait to use it more! 😃

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