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My First Experience with a Gacha Game

My First Experience with a Gacha Game

Recently, there were several  articles about loot boxes and how it can be addictive to players:

“What exactly are loot boxes?” 

Loot boxes are in-game mystery boxes which may contain desirable in-game items such as strong weapons, beautiful costumes and rare characters. It is usually not possible to buy or trade these items directly. The only way to earn them is to try your luck in these loot boxes, which can be exchanged with in-game currency earned while playing or purchased with real cash. Despite the probability of getting the desired item is less than 1 percent, the players are still motivated to increase their chances by getting more loot boxes.  

Games of such nature are also known as gacha games, which stems from the Japanese capsule toy-vending machines called Gashapon or Gachapon. Amongst the gaming community in Singapore or even Asia, we tend to use the term gacha instead. 

So how exactly are these gacha games so attractive? In order to explain, I thought it would be better to share my personal experience from my first gacha game.

My First Experience with a Gacha Game

I have always avoided Gacha games as I hate games which requires me to pay to win. Also, as an explorer player type, I like to collect every single character at least once and I cannot do this in a gacha game without paying a huge amount of money. If you would like to find out what player type you are, you can try the player type test here: 

Figure 1 Genshin Impact Advertisement in Serangoon MRT Station

Just before free-to-play role-playing game (RPG) Genshin Impact was released, my friend shared with me about the game and was excited about its launch. Out of curiosity, I asked him to explain what kind of game it is so that I could decide if it was something I wanted to try. Interestingly, the first response I received was “Do you play gacha games? Be prepared because this is a gacha game.”

With my gaming knowledge and prior experience with game addiction, I thought that I would be more resistant to the lure of gacha considering the fact that I hate playing with real cash. Thinking back, I was naïve to think so and the struggle not to think about unlocking a character in Genshin Impact is real.

Figure 2 In-game screen capture

The game as a whole was enticing with fun gameplay, beautiful anime-styled characters and interesting quests to complete. It felt like a full-fledged RPG that I could play for free. Before reaching Adventure Rank 5, there was no mention about spending or in-game currency, which allowed me to experience the world and interact with the characters without much consideration. As the interaction increases, so is my attachment to the characters.

Once Adventure Rank reaches 5, the tutorial guides you on how to exchange the in-game currency for an in-game item. A flashy animation will play while waiting for the item and/or character to appear, making me anticipate for my reward. A common term for this exchange process is called rolling, like how one rolls the dice. 

In a gacha game, the player has no influence on what rewards we receive, and for Genshin Impact, the odds of getting a highly-ranked character is 0.6 percent as informed by the game itself. After completing the tutorial and upon reaching Adventure Rank 7, the players are provided 45 rolls.

After receiving my rewards, I plan to move on with the game. However, after sharing my roll results and watching livestreams , I started to compare and ended up being discontented with what I had. As I progressed with the story, I realized there were characters that I want in my party.

In order to get a specific character without spending initially, the only way was to create a new account, go through the whole tutorial and hope that I get my character within 45 rolls. This process of creating a new account is called a reroll. The time spent to reroll is about 30 to 45 minutes. What happens if the desired character isn’t attained? Repeat.

Although logically 0.6 percent is a really low possibility, the fact that my friends attained the characters made me feel as if I could also get it. Some received theirs in the first few rolls. Despite rolling eighteen times for a certain character, I remembered screaming over the Discord chat with excitement.

I thought that I could stop rolling after this and realized how naïve I was. In order to strengthen this character, I needed to get duplicates of the same character. There was also a character that I wanted which is not available yet, and I was already discussing with my friends if I should start buying the in-game currency to increase my chances. This is before I started on collecting the right weapons and equipment for each character. 

Figure 3 The locks on the right indicates that 6 duplicates of the character are required to unlock it to its fullest potential

At the end of the first week into the game, I have rolled forty accounts and none with my desired lineup. By this time, my friend intervened, and reminded me of our first conversation about the game. That I was losing myself to the temptation of the gacha, becoming one of the others, playing to collect everything instead of simply enjoying and appreciating what I already have. The reason why it was tempting to spend on my characters is that I have already invested so much time to reroll. I felt that it was a waste to not strengthen my favourite character as irrational as it sounds.

How much does it cost to maximise a character?

The calculation below is based on what I want to get and calculation can vary for others.

Figure 4: Cost of Genesis Crystals in Genshin Impact

For Genshin Impact, there are 3 tiers of rarity: 5-star, 4-star and normal. There are also two types of reward: weapons and characters. 

I want to get a highly-ranked 5-star character like most  players  and the probability of obtaining it is 0.6 percent. However, if you have used up 89 rolls without obtaining a 5-star character, the game will give you a free 5-star character on the 90th roll. This is known as a pity roll where you are compensated for your bad rolls. The player is also guaranteed a 4-star or above item/character once per 10 rolls.

During a time-limited event, a promotional 5-star character will be made available. The first time you attain a 5-star character, there is a 50 percent chance that it will be that promotional character. Else, the next character is guaranteed the promotional character. Assuming that I only get a 5-star character through pity rolls, I must perform two pity rolls minimally in order to have a chance at getting the character I want who is not a promotional character.

You would need 160 primogems, an in-game currency, to exchange for 1 roll. The calculation below is based on the smallest package which provides 60 Genesis Crystals for SGD1.48. These Genesis Crystals can be converted to primogems at a 1:1 ratio. Take note that the calculation is an estimate and does not take into consideration the gems you can earn through the game or attain from duplicates.

ResultRolls RequiredPrimogems Required
(160 per roll)
Cost in SGDNotes
1 x 5-star character9014 400$355.20Worst-case scenario
1 x 5-star promotional character guaranteed18028 800$710.40Worst-case scenario
Unlocking maximum constellation on a character which is not a promotional character
(rolling the same 5-star character 7 times)
115 200$2 841.60Based on minimum number of pity rolls

After finding out that the entry point to  maximize my character is $ 2841.60 with no guarantees, I decided not to spend this amount of money to keep my false hopes up. 

It took me some days to consider before making the hard decision even though I have not spent on the game. The tempting thought of getting everything through spending lingers. My plan now is to save 180 rolls for a character when he appears as a promotional character, without paying. 

How to self-regulate?

Even with all the prior experiences and knowledge, it is still easy to fall prey into gacha games especially with the influence from other fellow gamers who have spent thousands of dollars to get their desired characters and weapons.

If you are already playing similar gacha games and looking for tips to self-regulate, you can consider the following suggestions:

  1. Constantly remind yourself that you are playing a gacha game. The goal of a gacha game is to get you so immersed that you will spend in order to keep up and maintain your characters. You will never be able to finish collecting as there will be more added into the collection.
  2. Are there ways to find fulfilment with whatever you have in your account? Do you really need all the characters and weapons in order to enjoy the game? Be in control of the game and redefine how you want to play to make it fun. Remember that games are meant to be part of leisure, not a contribution to your stress.
  3. Know your weakness and flee from temptation.  If being easily influenced is one of your weaknesses, avoid watching videos that emphasizes on in-game spending. This includes reaction video on players performing a successful roll. It is encouraging to see streamers like Mtashed taking up the social responsibility not to encourage viewers to roll. 

If you have tried many times to reduce your gacha spending but failed, and it is causing you and/or your family/friends a lot of stress, you can contact us at COMEBACK for help.  

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Gaming OR Studies – Motivations of an Achiever

Gaming OR Studies - Motivations of an Achiever

It is commonly believed that people get addicted due to the exhilarating nature of games. While video games are certainly arousing, my personal experiences seem to point at the cause of something deeper. Take it from me; after all, I used to be described as a ‘game addict’ by my own parents.

My Gaming World

You see, my growing up life was characterized by excessive amounts of gaming. I often gamed throughout the day and into the wee hours of the night, only catching up on sleep the very next day – in class. Skipping school was a routine tradition, as I often alternated between taking MCs, forging parents’ letters, or straight up without reason.

You may wonder: why doesn’t my parents do anything? Do they not care? The thing is, they were both busy working to make ends meet and had little time to supervise me. The situation further expounded when my father was sent overseas to work, leaving the entire burden on my mother to manage both her career, housework, and myself. She did make some effort, conducting nightly spot checks and implementing security locks – measures that were easy to navigate through with time. In the worst case scenario, I could simply head over to a friend’s house, or a nearby LAN shop to play. Gaming meant everything to me.

My motivation toward games was simple: it was a drive toward achievements. I naturally gravitated toward popular, multiplayer games which were competitive in nature, giving me ample opportunities to triumph over others and prove myself (Modern examples included: Mobile Legends, Overwatch). To me, what solely mattered was the recognition and admiration from my peers that followed these achievements.

To be honest, there simply weren’t many opportunities for me to excel outside of games. I was barely coping with my studies and constantly met disappointment from both my teachers and parents. As a result, gaming was the only outlet. As I started to get better at a certain game, I would tunnel vision toward improving at it, sacrificing my studies and any other commitments in the process.

A Comeback Moment

Things began to change during my Secondary school. Somehow, I was scoring well in my English and Humanities subjects, likely due to a good foundation in English and a natural interest toward History. It started as a series of small wins, in the form of occasional awards, and praises from both my teachers and peers. For instance, I vividly remembered my English teacher reading out my compositions to the class as a form of recognition. Even though these little moments were limited solely toward my class, it ignited a desire to do well in those subjects and compete for top place with my fellow ‘rivals’. 

A critical moment happened during Secondary 4. As we belonged to the Normal Academic stream, we had to complete our ‘N’ levels in order to proceed toward Secondary 5. Back then, the ‘N’ level was assessed based on our best 3 subjects. These 3 subject system meant that I needed to only focus on one subject, as I was already proficient in my best two. ‘N’ levels came and went in a flash, although the results were certainly unexpected: I had scored first place for overall score in my cohort. 

The thing is, I wasn’t considered as the forerunner prior to the examinations, although that has certainly changed since then. The entire experience fuelled a desire to repeat the success for ‘O’ levels, which led me to take drastic measures: unplugging the computer, purchasing assessment books, and even seeking my own tutors. My parents were visibly proud for the first time, and wholly supportive in my decisions. I felt unstoppable. Long story short, I managed to achieve first place again among my Normal Academic cohort, and landed in the polytechnic course of my dreams. It was truly befitting of a comeback. 

Not Your Fairytale Ending

This is usually the part where I end with a ‘happily ever after’. The truth is, my Polytechnic years were a dark period, as I struggled to cope with my studies amidst being surrounded by hardworking and capable classmates. On the other hand, I was constantly being known among my peers for being good at games, thanks to the previous years of grinding. My motivation toward studies gradually dipped as I went back into my old ways of gaming.

Looking back at my life, I realized the existence of a swinging pattern – alternating between the extremes of gaming or studies – which continued to manifest itself over the years. The large swings seemed to depend on whichever I was capable of excelling and being recognized for, at that point of time. At least for myself, my game dependency certainly didn’t occur solely due to the thrilling nature of games. 

As I continued pursuing my education in Psychology, I became acutely aware of the motivational tendencies of different individuals. You see, current psychological research on player personalities have indicated the existence of different player motivations – mine predominantly being the ‘Achiever’. This has been widely observed in a competitive striving toward achievements and higher status among my peers, in both gaming and studies, which was facilitated by an ‘all-in’ mentality toward either.

Although gaming still remains an integral part of my life, I find myself capable of managing my priorities and channeling my drive toward long-term commitments (work, relationships), much with the awareness of my own psychological motivation and supportive role models. Could the change have happened earlier? Perhaps, although I take comfort in my story that it is never too late. All these have led me to be fully invested in the COMEBACK program, as my past experiences and Psychology background has equipped me with the critical lens toward understanding the gamers’ underlying motivations, along with the innate desire and ability to connect.

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My PSLE and O Levels Regrets

My PSLE and O Levels Regrets

My PSLE and O Levels Regrets

I had two regrets growing up. The first was missing out on one question in my Mathematics paper during PSLE. This question cost me 8 marks. The second was missing the last page of my A Mathematics paper for O Levels, this time costing me 28 marks. The regrets were not only about my grades. It was painful not to be able to do my best. These two incidences were not coincidences. They were consequences of my behaviour that escalated because I did not consider it a problem until it was too late.

My School Days

I had problem fitting in during Primary School. I was ostracised by my classmates and video games became my escape. My parents only allowed me to play video games during the June or December holidays. During school term, I found other ways to play video games secretly. Without my parents knowledge, I played a lot of video games to the extent that I slept five hours or less a day. Due to prolonged lack of sleep, I could not focus during my PSLE. This resulted in my first regret. There were no big consequences and I moved on to secondary school.

To be accepted by schoolmates in secondary school, I joined a CCA to fit the image of a holistic student. Behind all these, I was still playing a lot video games. Gaming was on top of the busy school schedule. I never talked about my video gaming to my schoolmates as gaming was not a cool or acceptable activity. By then, I played about 200 game titles. I thought everything was fine and I was managing. My accumulated sleep deprivation seriously affected my ability to focus. The end result was my second regret.

Gaining Control Over Games

Even though the relationship with my parents were good, they could not understand why I was playing so much. Most of the conversations we had were about playing less games and studying more. I found it hard to share with them my problems, especially about being ostracised and having problems fitting in. At that point in time, I did not understand that games were my escape. All I knew was that I felt good playing games and I loved it. Games made me forget the problems and I was happy when I was gaming. When I was not gaming, I did not feel good. The negative feelings when I was not gaming increased over time. I needed to game more to make myself feel better and thus I ended up unable to control my gaming even when my exams were affected. I cried for my exams but I loved gaming too much to give it up.

My goal of going to a junior college was no longer possible after O Levels. Even at that point, I could not give up gaming. Instead, I went to Polytechnic to study game development, wanting to create the game of all games. In the game development course, I met many like-minded friends who love games. The lecturers were very understanding and genuinely care about us. As I learnt more about games, I understood myself as a gamer better. The community within the course also helped me build good gaming habits through friendships. When I understood how games are designed, the mysterious attraction of games began to fade away. I started to play less and eventually regained control.

In Retrospect

When I look back at these two regrets, if there is someone older who understands games and me as a gamer to walk alongside me, things might be a little different now. Perhaps I would have done better for my O levels. A gamer role model will be helpful for me as I felt isolated and alone.

I believe in COMEBACK because it does not end with just helping us gamers to overcome games. COMEBACK brings us to a community where we have a sense of belonging. I was able to gain control when I found my “tribe” at the game development course. I was able to connect to a community where I belong. On top of this, COMEBACK is about walking the journey together so that we discover each of our life purpose with a hope for the future.

About Ruth Lim

Ruth is on staff with SOOS OIO as an Esports Coach and co-developed TeleTrip, an offline gaming community event. She conducts DOTA 2 foundational classes and workshops for Esports Academy under SCOGA and also teaches the module “Team Management” in Informatics Diploma for Esports and Game Design. Ruth is also involved in the development of COMEBACK program.

Ruth Lim coached a competitive DOTA 2 team TenTwenty in 2017 that won CPL Championship DOTA 2 Edition 2017, came in 1st in Dew Challenge 2017 and represented Singapore in Asia Pacific Predator League in 2018. Ruth managed Team Impunity FIFA Online 3 who got 3rd in EA Champions Cup (EACC) Winter Cup 2016 representing Singapore. In 2017, she coached Team Impunity FIFA Online 3.

Ruth graduated from Temasek Polytechnic with Diploma in Games & Entertainment Technology and SIT-University of Glasgow in Bachelors of Science with Honours in Computing Science. She also holds a CoachSG coaching certificate.

Well recognized in the DOTA 2 community, Ruth attended numerous international gaming tournaments, got to know and learnt from many of the top players worldwide. Ruth hopes to share her knowledge and experience to gamers in Singapore and beyond.