Monument to Interactive Play

By Erika Goering,

  Filed under: KCAI, Learning, Spatial Experience
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We’ve started to narrow down and deepen our concept, with our Tamagotchi monument representing more than just play, but specifically the marked beginning of interactive, passive, but intensely involved play.

An article we found is much more eloquent about this idea than we are:

[…] Some of the key elements of Tamagotchi anticipated many of the most successful games in the emerging mobile and social gaming space.

[…] Tamagotchi anticipated a new paradigm, one where the gamer doesn’t so much play a game as “tend” it. Each Tamagotchi (an egg shaped keychain with an LED screen) gave the owner the experience of owning a virtual pet. The pet had to be fed, cleaned, and cared for. It was a keychain, so it was always in your pocket. None of the “gameplay” was complex, but this sense of responsibility and ownership coupled with the portability and “always on” nature of the Tamagotchi’s internal clock was a powerful draw.

[…] Tamagotchi’s basic formula – a simple mobile experience that a player engages with in several short sessions a day – is all around us. […] Gamers are relating to games in a new way. This low-impact/frequent engagement model is perfect for the mobile market, where – like Tamagotchi – games are often something used to kill time while riding the bus or waiting for food at a restaurant. Tamagotchi is primitive in terms of technology, but the fundamental relationship it establishes with the gamer is the same as many of today’s mobile blockbusters.

[…] Sometimes a cheap little plastic keychain really can change the world.

We did a little bit of research on Aki Maita, Tamagotchi’s inventor, and how she was involved in the process of developing this innovative toy.

What separates the Tamagotch (as it is known in Japan) from other electronic gadgets is the human-like demands it makes on its owners. “It is dependent on you — that’s one reason it became so popular,” the childless creator says. “I think it’s very important for humans to find joy caring for something.”

[…] Maita took Tamagotchi prototypes to the streets of Tokyo’s Shibuya district for a consumer test. She handed them out to about 200 high-school girls. “Their eyes instantly lit up,” she reports.

The Tamagotchi is more than just a plaything. It’s a part of our lives, whether we actively pursue the Tamagotchi itself or not. And that’s what we’re celebrating; the idea of interactive play that started with the Tamagotchi.

As for formal explorations, we’re definitely thinking of an interactive monument, where the pets’ health and wellbeing is dependent on people nearby. We are thinking of setting up a type of projection system, much like Keetra Dean Dixon’s “Plug-in-Play” experience. Ours will be different in that it will span the globe. Activities from the oversized pet in Tokyo will be displayed in New York. And vice-versa, perhaps. There will be more than just interaction with pets, but interaction of cultures as well. A truly inter-active experience.

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