Tamahonam Gangster Pet Page

Tamahonam was described and discussed in the Wall Street Journal article below:

Wall Street Journal 
20 June 1997 page B-1
by Connie Ling

Toyland Anticipates Arrival
Of Booze-Loving Gangster

The wildly popular Tamagotchi toys teach kids around the world to care for virtual dogs, cats, chickens and even dinosaurs. But gangsters?

Next month, a Hong Kong company plans to launch Tamahonam, the first electronic playmate to boast membership in a Chinese criminal triad, or gang.

Hong Kong's answer to the pocket-size pets is the brainchild of King's Foundation Ltd., which publishes a weekly gore-and-sex-filled comic series called Young Triads. Tamahonam is modeled after the protagonist, Chan Ho Nam.

Tamagotchi, which means "cute little egg" in Japanese, is a chicken-like figure on a liquid-crystal display that is cared for by pressing buttons. Interest in the digital pet and its imitators has become so strong in Hong Kong, as well as the U.S., that some teachers have banned them from classrooms and some schools provide counseling to students traumatized when their pets die.

Tamahonam won't be so lovable. Instead of asking for snacks when it's hungry, the Hong Kong version will ask for cigarettes and alcohol. Tamagotchis play ball and fetch toys for amusement, but owners will give Tamahonam a virtual knife to let him wage turf battles.

"Tamahonam, naturally, will have the same habits and behavior as Chan Ho Nam," says Paul Chu, a manager at King's Foundation. While the Young Triads comics are sold only to people over the age of 18 in Hong Kong, Mr. Chu says his company will sell Tamahonam "to anyone who is willing to pay for it."

Mr. Chu declines to disclose the planned retail price, but similar toys in Hong Kong typically cost the equivalent of between $20 and $50. If Tamahonam becomes a hit, he says, the company may even consider exporting it.

A toy involving alcohol, cigarettes and violence may encounter resistance from the government and parents. Hong Kong's Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority, which is in charge of censoring indecent and obscene print and broadcast materials, says that if the contents of the new toy are indecent, it will need to be classified and sold only to those over 18.

If that happens, Mr. Chu says, the company may consider a milder version of Tamahonam that eats junk food rather than drinks alcohol and smokes cigarettes. Knife fights, he concedes, could be optional.

Copyright © 1997 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Hong Kong virtual pet gives up knifing, drinking

6 August 1997
HONG KONG, Aug 6 (Reuter) - A virtual pet in the form of a Chinese triad gangster has given up knife fights, smoking and drinking beer, and turned to ice-cream for sustenance.

The controversial triad boy hero, modelled on Japan's Tamagotchi virtual pet craze, would opt for ice-cream and look cute instead of brandishing a knife, puffing cigarettes and downing alcohol after strong public criticism of the toy.

The craze is sweeping Hong Kong with fans paying high prices for the toy, which displays a bird-like image on the screen of an egg-shaped key-ring device and simulates the life cycle of a pet. The image ``grows into a kind of chick'' if it is correctly ``fed'' and the right buttons are pressed.

The South China Morning Post said on Wednesday that manufacturer King's Fountain Ltd had toned down the new game based on a local comic strip chronicling the adventures and sexual exploits of its narrator Chan Ho-man, because of public criticism.

``The character will look nice and inoffensive,'' company manager Paul Chu told the newspaper. The new electronic ``egg'' would be on sale at the end of this month, he said.

Virtual pet toys have a small screen showing a pet that has to be fed, cleaned and put to sleep. It can die of neglect.

Tamagotchi are banned in schools in Hong Kong and Taiwan. REUTER

Copyright 1997 Reuters Limited.

This page was created 23 June 1997

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