Gachapon is one of those bizarre (at least to Western minds) Japanese institutions that is, to our rational, real life sensibilities, pretty incomprehensible. Like pachinko, fukubukuro, shibari, noh, pre-chewed gum and schoolgirls’ panties vending machines, and – to a lesser extent – karaoke, it takes a particular grasp of how the Japanese think and perceive the world for those of us not so enlightened to even pretend to understand the attraction. Despite this, when it comes to SL, those of us not acquainted with the Land of the Rising Sun are quite happy it seems to embrace such peculiarly Japanese foibles without reservation.
Gacha, (also frequently bastardised at the whim of Western devotees to be rendered as ‘gatcha’, or even ‘gotcha’), has attained unparalleled success inworld, to become a lucrative and popular form of trade – not only in the form of the gacha machines themselves, but also in terms of a thriving resale market. Inevitably, such a powerful commercial force is not without its critics and scandals, but on the whole the market has proven to be remarkably resilient. At its heart, gacha can be seen as a cynical method of tapping into human weaknesses – its a straightforward form of gambling where you pay a fixed amount of money in the hope that you might secure your particular object of desire. I’ve written at length on the subject previously.
Even so, provided you are not of a compulsive or addictive nature, playing gacha can be a fun and rewarding pastime, but even the most stoic of us can find ourselves teetering on the brink of foolishness, particularly when the stakes are low but the gains are high.
Personally, I’m not particularly drawn to gacha – they rarely fall within my sphere of interest, but when they do, I find that rationality can go completely out of the window, unless I’m very careful, and the temptation to have just one more go in the hope I might be able to secure the object of my desires is almost irresistible. It doesn’t help that the sort of gacha prizes I tend to be interested in tend to fall within the realms of ‘rare’, ‘ultra-rare’, or ‘you must be joking!’
For example, there was the May’s Soul La Parca staff that I spotted a random stranger holding, I simply had to have one. It took me days of hunting before I realised it was a gacha item, and a rare one at that, to be followed by an even longer time spent hunting down somewhere that I could actually have a go at getting one! In this instance, persistence paid off, and after only my second attempt I was now the proud owner of something that is still one of my favourite possessions.
Then there were Milk Motion’s ‘Roofs of Paris’, which I discovered completely by accident, and again, I simply had to own them. There’s a certain romance for me about the whole concept of rooftops in SL – which regular readers may remember me writing about a few months ago, and I just couldn’t believe that here was exactly what I could have wished for. The only problem, it was a gacha prize, and of course a rare item. Worse still, it came with a couple of HUDs to control chimney smoke and rain – neither of which would work without it, and without which I would have felt sold short. This turned out to be a rather more expensive expedition than I’d planned for, although actually very successful – I managed to grab all 10 items in 12 attempts, which I think is pretty reasonable, and the duplicates I could use elsewhere anyway, so win-win, I reckon!
My latest acquisition though is of a whole different order: 28 items, including 4 – absolutely essential rares! To be honest, I could have lived without 24 of the prizes, but I knew that odds of winning those 4 essential items were stacked against me, and that the likelihood of coming away very much out of pocket and without the very things I was angling for was high. So I cheated. I managed to find the complete set of all 28 pieces on the Marketplace for a price that I reckon was a fair bit less than I’d probably have spent gambling on the gacha coming up trumps, and I bought the lot. Possibly not entirely in the spirit of these things, but as with anything the true intrinsic value doesn’t lie with what it’s worth, but rather what it’s worth to you… And, in this case, I went away happy, and I daresay the person that I bought my spoils off was more than happy too, as was the original creator: win-win-win!
However, I think I’m going to give gacha a rest for a bit – contrary to what I’d fervently believed previously, it is rather addictive!
So what becomes of you my love
When they have finally stripped you of
The handbags and the gladrags
That your poor old Grandad
Had to sweat to buy you
Stereophonics – Handbags And Gladrags