“Way back in the day”, is the way the old timers begin their stories, in this case the Second Life (SL) old timer we are citing is me. So, “Way back in the day” refers to before “The Arcade”, one of the most successful Gacha Events in SL.
Before Gacha was a word I had ever heard, other than when my brother would yell GOTCHA while grabbing me painfully by my nose and twisting it, Gacha being so close to Gotcha, was not something I looked forward to discovering when I first heard the term in SL.
However, you can imagine my surprise, when one of my best girlfriends shared a fun little item she had run across called “Gacha”. It was in a Japanese stylized sim where we found a row of cute little vending machines filled with a series of related trinkets. At first I was skeptical to touch such an odd contraption, one that appeared to be similar to a one-legged-bandit gambling machine – but, after getting the illusive “Rare” that my friend wanted, she began passing me some of her extras or “commons”, as I would soon find out they are called, and that was all she wrote – I was bitten by the Gacha bug!
My intro to Gacha was an inexpensive way to get better quality items with the added feature of risk and spare gifts to hand to my friends. They were exciting times when places like “The Arcade” popped up and some of the best creators on the grid hopped on the Gacha train. It became more of an event …of a party… than just shopping!
Now, years later, and a whole inventory filled with commons that I have no idea what to do with, I wonder if I even want to get another damn collection started. So I spoke with that same friend that got me started “back in the day,“ when everything Gacha was new and shiny. My friend, the one that popped my Gacha cherry, was none other than Holli Thespian who hosts one of the bigger Gacha events called OMGacha. I asked her my question “Is the Thrill Gone?” And she sure had plenty to say.
“I think its events in General that have become too much, not just the Gachas. The event market is over-saturated and no one can possibly attend them all, let alone have enough time to wear or buy everything that is being pushed out there. As soon as one event closes three more pop up the very next day,” she told me.
“Go to seraphimsl.com it shows it all,” she explains. “I was just there and had 10 browser windows of new events open, and about halfway through checking them out, I just closed them all because I am literally tired of looking. Tired of so many events,” she went on to elaborate.
“I have this conversation all the time with my designer friends. Everyone hates feeling worn down working for events. We have 14 quality events every month plus seasonal fairs and that’s just skimming the popular ones,” Holli continued.
“A lot of Stores do not release any more, designers are over worked and as a designer myself it seems that is all I have time for – keeping up with the next event.” BUT – if customers are feeling it and designers are feeling it why hasn’t it stopped she muses. “My own event, OMG is still successful and yes it’s another Gacha but, I try to make the venue fun and interesting for people.”
One of the more interesting Gacha events is the TAG Gacha. This one utilizes a HUD designed to take you from store to store and lighten the lag and traffic load from the sims. It’s a brilliant concept because it brings the consumer back to the shops, not just to an event.
In a world where the really good and successful events are getting less common and they are having to find new ways to draw a crowd, the TAG Gacha has found a niche. It is one of the few Gacha events left that will lure me.
I didn’t just speak with Holli, however. I interviewed several random Gacha enthusiasts from a myriad of resources. I heard everything from stories of college kids who blew their food money for more Gacha spending; to a man who loves collecting Gacha so much, that, for the sake of the hunt and the thrill of finding a great deal at a Gacha Yard sale, he just lost control. I even spoke to a young lady who has set herself a budget and with it, uses her duplicates for trade – all to complete her collections. She is that determined to get her items, yet, is mindful of her money.
Gacha as an interview topic was not easy to research. I found it almost impossible to gather facts or data. Even my search on the web revealed very little other than the fact that it originated in Japan in 1965 – 50 years ago – and that it is derived from the term Gashapon which describes the sounds the machine makes. The first being “Gasha” for the sound of the crank on a toy vending machine and the “pon” the sound of the toy capsule dropping into the dispenser receptacle.
Like in SL, the real toys come in sets (or collections) and are trade-able. There are people completely obsessed with their collections, who dedicate their time and lunch money to collect Gashapon/Gacha in order to share and trade with others.
There are even stores in Japan that are dedicated to these little capsule toys, but most of all, I discovered in SL, Art imitates life! RL Gacha is stronger than ever 50 years later! So, this leaves me to draw only one conclusion…
Gacha is here to stay in SL and the THRILL is not gone…
It, like most things, is just evolving and there are way too many ways it appeals to consumers. As long as there are lindens to be had, then designers will bring it to the table to feed the Gacha Machine.