Opening disclaimer: I know there are quite a few people on this forum for whom gacha games are a morally reprehensible object. I think it’s perfectly reasonable to look at the facts of the genre as laid out and come to that conclusion. In making this thread I am… not particularly interested in that conversation though, because it’s a closed conversation — there’s no new information to offer there. We all know how it works. I’m making this thread because I’m genuinely curious about how y’all think about your experiences with these kinds of games, in particular with things like work and production, and this is quite literally the only place on the internet where I think that discussion could exist.
So… anyway. This might be a long post.
I had a funny conversation with a game designer and Genshin-playing friend about two months ago, in which she expressed a complete lack of surprise at my being hooked by World Flipper back when it launched because of the one winter break where I tried out Stardew Valley and ended up doing basically nothing else for two weeks of my life. And I think it’s true — I like optimization and repetitive grinding as long as there’s some kind of narrative framework that gets thrown in here or there. I’ve meshed with some idle games in the past, though the idle games I’ve played are the kind of hostile deconstructions, not something I could go to for comfort (you know, things like Universal Paperclips or A Dark Room). As an outsider, I hadn’t realized that that kind of loop was at the core of these games, because the conversation around them outside dedicated spaces revolves so much around the gambling aspects. And WF really got me with its characters — they’re all quite strange and oddball in ways I find really compelling, and the writing is… genuinely really good? The localization team for this game clearly has a ton of fun with it.
But anyway — WF going into half-anniversary has made me think a lot about how I’ve been playing this game daily, usually for a couple hours at least (I like to run it on my phone while doing work, playing other games, while I write this post lol), for a pretty significant period of time, and the side-effects of that. I spend a lot less time on Reddit, Tiktok, and Twitter especially than I used to, because if I want to grind zero-stamina co-op matches I need the game to be open — and I actually feel kinda healthier for that at least. It’s gamified my life in ways that are kind of scary to think about (at this point I’ve built a sixth sense for when my stamina is about to be full and when I need to fire it up to avoid wasting any). But it’s also still a game; in a way, it’s taking these impulses I have as a product of capitalism (to be constantly productive, working, generating value) and giving me an outlet for them that isn’t actually making value for anyone else. Spending hours running virtual battles for virtual items to power up virtual characters who will all one day disappear… there’s something interesting there about production. And despite having thrown a not huge, but decent amount of money at the game at this point (as if I were buying a console game a month, basically), it still feels like the thing I’m paying the most into it is time.
And even still on a more personal level, I’ve spent years turning my biggest hobbies, writing and games, into an academic career — and this feels like the first time in a long time I’ve kept a hobby up for this long without some kind of motivation towards making money.
Anyway, forgive the long-winded ramble — I’m really curious about how y’all interact with and play gacha games, and even more so how y’all think about their time with them. It’s absolutely a fraught topic but I’ve been surprised by how interesting I found this space to be once I got here. If you’ve tried them as well, what’s it been like?