A Tamagotchi is a keychain-sized digital pet simulation game for people of all ages, created in Japan by Akihiro Yokoi of WiZ and Aki Maita of Bandai. The characters are colorful and simplistically designed creatures based on animals, objects, or people. Beginning with the 2004 Tamagotchi Plus/Connection, a second wave of Tamagotchi toys emerged, featuring a different graphic design by JINCO and gameplay which elaborated upon the first generations. However, the story behind the games remained the same: Tamagotchis are a small alien species that deposited an egg on Earth to see what life was like, and it is up to the player to raise the egg into an adult creature. The creature goes through several stages of growth, and will develop differently depending on the care the player provides, with better care resulting in an adult creature that is smarter, happier, and requires less attention. Gameplay can vary widely between models, and some models, such as TamagoChu, require little to no care from the player. Tamagotchi has a large fan base.
It was first sold by Bandai in 1996 in Japan. As of 2010, over 76 million Tamagotchis have been sold world-wide. Most Tamagotchis are housed in a small egg-shaped computer with an interface usually consisting of three buttons, although the number of buttons may vary for different variations.
Consequently, the name is romanized as "Tamagotch" without the "i" in Japan. But recently in Japan, the romanized name has changed to the English "Tamagotchi" with the i. Most Tamagotchi characters' names end in 'tchi' in Japanese, with the exception of a few newer characters, such as Makiko.