My Covid Journey to the World of Gacha Gaming - Cebu X-Geeks

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Tuesday, March 16, 2021

My Covid Journey to the World of Gacha Gaming

Now, I’m not a longtime gacha gamer (though I am a longtime gamer, generally). I also highly doubt
I’m the only gacha gamer here in Cebu.

Regardless, I want to tell my story about how I came into this weird, weaboo-ey world of salty rolls and chasing waifus/husbandos. Why? Because it’s also my Covid story.

I came to this conclusion after a nice little discussion with other CXG contributors about the different games that trended immensely since the pandemic was locking all of us down starting March 2020. We covered a lot of the usual suspects (from the FF7 Remake to Animal Crossing).

However, it was pointed out to me that a lot of these games had a strong, single-player element to them and they seem to have also provided serious competition to MOBAs and MMOs. In fact, if you looked at Polygon’s own Top 50 Games of 2020, you’d notice that over 40 of those games are perfect for playing by yourself. The reality is that smash hit multiplayer games like Fall Guys and Among Us were more of an exception than the rule.

And the more I looked at it, the more I realized that my gaming life since early 2020 was surprisingly the same. This, in turn, is what finally got me to dive headfirst into a gacha.

Of course, I still certainly frequented a lot of my usual MMO haunts (mainly FFXIV and Hearthstone). But because of the circumstances of the pandemic (and no small amount of stress and problems at work), there was definitely something that greatly pushed me to seek a new anti-drug.



(Disclaimer: I don't own this image, and my gacha habit was not as bad as hers.)

In hindsight, I realized that a gacha game really checked off all the things I seriously needed for coping. Pair that with a few silver linings that made it easier for me to start playing one and it was really just inevitable.

Now to be honest, I was already well aware of what gacha games were like. I knew about titles like Granblue Fantasy, Fate/Grand Order and Azur Lane. My younger brother was also way more into the gacha scene than I was. I’ve lost count of the many times I’ve seen him watch YT videos featuring Epic 7, Final Fantasy Brave Exvius, Dragalia Lost etc.

The only reason why I didn’t wanna touch any of those things back then was because I was saving for a PC and had no desire to really start gaming on my phone.

Fast forward to 2020, I’ve been having a blast with my hard-earned gaming rig for more than a year. Things were great. But then, as I mentioned before, the pandemic happened and it all just set up the circumstances that made gacha a much-needed infusion to my gaming habit.

To best describe how and why, I’ll give you this list of reasons:

#1. Coming home to play just wasn’t enough anymore


There was a lot of uncertainty when the pandemic peaked and Cebu was put under various stages of quarantine. To say that it didn’t stress me would be a lie bigger than the damn moon. Playing games to take my mind off of all the shit that was happening just couldn’t wait till I stepped back into the apartment. I really needed it in every minute that I was free to take a break.

#2. Spending on more home gaming just didn’t make sense.


When it was no longer enough to wait till I came home to play, it was only natural that I didn’t want to spend more on the whole routine than I already did at that point. Furthermore, before I decided to take the gacha pill, I already developed a habit of spending more time talking to friends and family via mobile internet to help me cope. It was at that point that I slowly realized that getting a new phone made for a better investment.

#3. My gaming budget was drastically reduced.



It goes without saying that my finances were far from healthy during that whole year. If I was going to play something new, then it sure as hell wasn’t something that would make that situation worse. The F2P nature of gacha gaming seemed like the only fit, expense wise. A lot of the mainstream gacha titles had reportedly come a long way from their shady pay-to-win roots and I got curious about seeing these changes for myself. (And contrary to memes, rate-ups weren't a total lie.)

#4. It can still fit with my other games.

Lastly, the fairly casual nature of gacha games still made it easier to juggle with the other games I continued to play. In fact, I often found the compact nature of playing these games part of their charm. There was no real pressure to spend hours grinding on my phone all the time. I made enough progress just by stepping in for login rewards, 15-30 minutes on easy dailies and then go back to my bigger games.

So with all that said, I officially took my first steps with Fate/Grand Order (one of the longstanding, love-hated franchises of today’s gacha games). I picked it for a number of reasons, including familiarity with the Fate series, my fondness for real-world myth and folklore, as well as certain childhood princesses I’ve always wanted to have as a waifu (okay that last one is a confession but please don’t judge me).



(Yes. I rolled for her and got her. I regret nothing.)

The following months of 2020 only went to prove that my decision was a good one. I was pleasantly surprised to see just how far I could go into the main story without hitting some kind of wall (whether it was a paywall, energy wall etc).

It also helped that I got connected to a lot of my old friends back in Davao, who formed their own little online group for gacha games. Connecting with them, getting help from their roster of heroes and being part of a new fandom really showed how this world of gacha filled the hole that the pandemic smashed into my gaming life.

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