Abstract: Most players of mobile games intimately understand the economic model of the Japanese “gachapon” (ガチャポン), even if they are not familiar with the term. The Japanese word derives from onomatopoeia for two distinct sounds: the “gacha,” or the sound of turning the crank of the machine, followed by the “pon,” or the sound of the toy dropping down into the receptacle. It is a blind process, but the graphic advertisement on the front of the machine allures us with the promise of possible rewards. One does not need any skill to operate a gachapon. Simply drop in your coins, turn the crank, and await the surprise. While the word “gachapon” refers to this particular invention, the term has more recently been employed as a method of monetization in mobile gaming. This essay briefly explores the intersections between the history of the machines as socio-cultural objects and the use of gachapon mechanics in virtual play.
Christina M. Spiker, “Should you Pull? Gachapon, Risk, and Reward in Mobile Gaming,” First Person Scholar (September 6, 2017)