Everything Parents (and Players) Need to Know About Gacha Life
If you have kids and love video games, then the odds are good that youâ€™ve heard of a new game called Gacha Life. Based on anime styling, the game features cute, colorful characters that certainly look harmless, but itâ€™s still important for parents to understand exactly what their kidsâ€™ favorite games and apps are really like.
If you need a crash course in Gacha Life, youâ€™ve come to the right place. Whether you want to play the game yourself or monitor safe game play for your children, you can start with this rundown of what to expect. Hereâ€™s a look at what critics, kids and parents had to say about the Gacha game experience and its suitability for younger players.
Basic Concept Behind Gacha Life
In essence, Gacha Life is a life simulation game developed by Lunime that can be played on a PC or via an iOS or Android app. With more than 10 million downloads in the Google Play Store alone, the game has established quite a following, particularly among younger players from ages 6 to 14.
Players use the app to create anime-style characters they can dress up and use to play games, interact with other in-game characters and create skits. Many players post their skits on sites like YouTube, where they can be watched by others. As in other games, the characters try to rack up tokens to spend by winning various games. Be aware that in-app purchase options are a part of the game, which means young kids may require supervision to avoid unauthorized purchases.
No More Chatting for Kids
Safety is a primary concern for most parents who ask about Gacha Life, but determining safety is a little tricky. The game itself doesn't include violence or other inappropriate content, but itâ€™s an interactive role-playing game, so some members of the community use it to produce questionable content.
When the game was initially released, one of the biggest problem areas for Lunime was the "chat" feature. By logging into chat rooms, players could talk to other players from around the world. Not surprisingly, this was where things could get really shady, really quickly. When you first log in to the game, youâ€™re asked to not use offensive language or make inappropriate comments, but itâ€™s difficult to get people to uphold that agreement in a live, unmoderated internet chat room.
Ultimately, Lunime had to remove the chat feature due to the abundance of bad language, cyberbullying and other inappropriate behaviors. Now, the only characters you can interact with are in-game, pre-programmed characters.
Beware of Sketchy Skit Shows
After chatting was removed, one of the biggest problems to emerge was the content produced by some of the players. Living in the social media-obsessed culture that we live in, itâ€™s natural for kids who enjoy creating their own Gacha Life skits to want to check out the work of other players. This is where you need to be really careful as a parent, as plenty of Gacha Life game skits on sites like YouTube are completely inappropriate for children.
Even as an older player, you may want to avoid going down the Gacha Life rabbit hole, as you're likely to come across some pretty offensive, depressing or otherwise questionable material. Other common complaints relate to the number of ads featured in the game, particularly when switching from one section to another. Most ads arenâ€™t very long, but they can be annoying and could tempt kids to click away from the game.
Other Important Info for Parents
Besides the risk of young Gacha Life fans watching inappropriate skits on YouTube, your child could be led to inappropriate sites based on search results and suggestions on the video site. It's definitely worth reviewing the information in the YouTube Parental Control guide to find out how you can keep your kids safe from inappropriate content.
Critics, Parents and Kids Weigh In
When it comes to ratings for the game, you wonâ€™t have trouble finding a variety of opinions, and those reviews tend to conclude that the game itself isnâ€™t a problem, but the community that has cropped up around it could be an issue. Commonsense Media gave Gacha Life a scorching one out of five stars based on its failure to meet best child development practices. Parents such as sabertoothreview33 agreed, urging parents to "PLEASE watch your children! The community based around this app is TOXIC. Don't be fooled by the chibi cutesy art style!"
Other parents, however, stressed that supervision is the key factor in positive game play. Amanda888 advised that the game "is only inappropriate if you make it inappropriate...Gacha Life is pretty safe for kids. The only main exception is the videos made with it and the weapons."
Even kids, such as 13-year-old sleepii.stranger, weighed in, saying that "Gacha Life is a fun game that promotes creativity and storytelling in kids. By itself, it's not a BAD GAME. The community, however, can be extremely toxic and suggestive if you dig deep into it, so you might want to supervise your children on that."
Alternative Game Choices
If you're not sure the Gacha Life game is the right choice for you or your kids, then rest assured that you can find plenty of alternatives. Commonsense Media, which is a great resource for players and parents alike, dedicates a whole section of app reviews to simulation games that are appropriate for kids.
As always, be sure to talk to your kids about the potential dangers of online gameplay and videos. It's never a bad idea to take an app for a spin yourself before handing it over, just to make sure there aren't any ugly surprises.