Online Gacha Games: Underaged Gambling In Disguise


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This is another in a series of Guest Editorials written by Pinole Valley High School students.

If you are a teenager, chances are you have heard of booming online games such as Arknights, Cookie Run: Kingdom, or Genshin Impact. These are only three games that I can name from the top of my head after seeing them on social media such as TikTok and Instagram. So, what do they have in common? The answer is simple yet loathsome: they use the notorious gacha system.

A gacha system is a monetization mechanic that induces players to use in-game currencies to obtain a chance of getting something rare and valuable in the game, whether it be new characters or weapons. It originated in Japan through a type of vending machine called “Gachapon” that dispenses capsule toys where mainly kids would test their luck to crank out their desired toy displayed in the colorful posters advertising the collection of toys inside. Players would “pull” or “roll” the gacha by spending a specific number of in-game currency to receive a randomized prize. The more precious or powerful the items are, the lower the rates they would have to encourage players to keep trying. However, some games have a pity system wherein a player can finally acquire their desired item after reaching a certain number of tries.

I, myself, am a huge fan of Genshin Impact due to the thrill I get from experiencing a role-playing game and its nerve-racking gacha system to collect new and powerful characters. It all started just a month into my sophomore year when the game was released in September 2020; I stumbled upon its growing popularity while I was browsing through the Internet just like any other ordinary day. Here I am in the present, more than a year later, already spending money beyond what my expectations were when I played it for the first few months. If you ask me whether I feel any sort of guilt, then I would nod without hesitation. I am only one out of the thousands of other players out there who have fallen into the same dark pit of the gacha addiction we never wished for. Our misfortune in the game compels us to spend actual money to convert them into in-game currencies and eventually secure the valuable items we want most through gambling.

The naivety of children is what gacha games take advantage of the most in the vicious modern digital world. Based on a recent study by the Pew Research Center, 63% of parents of 12- to 14-year-old-teens claim that they are always aware of what games their children play in comparison to 48% of parents of 15- to 17-year-olds. Nevertheless, these parents are not engaged enough to realize that their children are spending their money on online games enabled by easy payment access on their mobile devices. For example, when a parent’s credit card’s information is linked to an Apple ID account, kids can simply enter its password to make a purchase within the game.

Will gacha games be facing consequences for manipulating young minds? No, not anytime soon. Its predatory practices will persist due to the immense adoration by adolescents around the world. The games will continue to develop further, inviting more and more innocent children to place their bets until they fall into the same trap of gacha addiction as the rest of us.