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"Just Don't Play": TCGs, Gacha Games and Social Relevance

Nero's Coffee currently features many gacha, both in Trading Card Games (which is the first form of gacha in the contemporary game industry) and RPG Gachas, and I feel like talking about this at the beginning of our journey.

In my previous article, I've been talking about how problematic can be partaking in rhythm game competitive scene. The first comment about it has been "? just don't play", and this gives me a good starting point to talk about it.

Is giving up something many of us love the answer to this world?

I guess you already know that it's not my answer, as I wouldn't be featuring this kind of content anymore. So, have I decided to "just take it easy" and "stop complaining"?

Before answering this, I have a story to tell.

It was a really hard period of my life: things were being really harsh, in multiple ways, and I was looking for something to put my mind into, to just breathe.

A friend of mine told me a new Genshin-like game was about to launch. A game launch day is always a special occasion: you have the opportunity to be one of the founding members of a community. I craved for this feeling of belonging, and a new beginning.

At the start, my experience with Tower of Fantasy was a bit disenchanted, mostly because of the first cutscenes, which were a bit unpolished, and the instability of the servers at launch.

I decided to give it a second chance, though, and, from there, I got more and more into the game.

It felt like being a more social version of Genshin Impact, with a sci-fi/steampunk touch, which I actually liked quite a bunch.

From here, something was really clear in my mind:

I want to be a relevant part of this game's community.

If spending was what it took, I wouldn't have minded allocating a budget, to achieve this goal: as in Log Horizon, I wanted to be a relevant MMO player, that could be reliable for others, and create our little world. And I was, for some time at least.

My first goal was "having as many characters as possible", so I planned out my game expenses on that purpose. That objective soon shifted to: "Having a strong main team", but I still didn't want to give up variety. So, my idea is: "I'll be spending a good amount upfront, to then just pick characters".

The stars in the sky are free for us to share. These are not, and ultimately didn't gift me hope.

Tower of Fantasy is an MMO that actively ranks players during raids, based on the total damage dealt. It also has its version of Genshin's Abyss, that also distribute rewards based on a leaderboard.

Both mechanics are, at the very least, very dangerous, as all resources are useful to "be relevant".

What did "relevant" mean to me, though?

Having a good kit of characters in game means completing content faster, and/or obtaining more rewards. I was convinced this would have helped me to achieve my goal: connecting with other players.

Can't one connect without doing this, though? After all, many players don't even spend, and play with friends regardless.

Truth is, I was lying to myself: I wanted to be an authority.

Is it strange? After all, authorities are relevant. Is there anything wrong if I act kind, and represent a lead in a community?

Intrinsically, there's nothing wrong in being authoritative, but obtaining relevance through a game state can be dangerous, when this state is obtained spending energy. Time and money are both forms of energy, as much as attention to a specific theme is. This game got all three out of me.

I hard quit the game for a while, in order to keep myself safe and reconsider my priorities: when you plan spending more than 10% of your income in a very specific form of entertainment each and every month, it's healthy to check if it keeps being worth it. I was spending much more than that.

So, the big question here is: was "just not playing" my solution? I think the problem lies elsewhere.

Looking for social relevance through having more in-game "freedom" than others is not healthy, and many games allow this to happen because it means profit.

This freedom comes in the form of resources, items, characters, or power levels. It's always true in card games: having the "meta" deck is an advantage, and having the meta deck in each and every tournament means spending money.

The point is, though: cutting-edge competition isn't the only way to experience a game.

My main mission, with Nero's Coffee, is creating a place where people can share passion for collection-oriented games and be relevant without the need, or incentive, of being cutting-edge in terms of power level, whatever the game is.

Let's experience game together with a "player-first" perspective.

When I fight in a card game, we're not fighting "against a deck", I'm fighting "together with a friend". This is one of the founding principles of AtlaStudio's AI-ICE, and this community's main focus.

I think there's nothing wrong in liking collection games, experiencing them, even spending some money in them - they wouldn't exist otherwise. Still, let's do this reasonably, and, more than everything else, as warm and human as possible.

And, if you find yourself in trouble, feeling left out because you don't have a "meta deck" or a "strong character kit" in a game, complain, and someone tells you "just don't play", I hope you'll be able to answer:

"I don't need to decide between spending or quitting: I now have my place to stay."

This is my dream for Nero's Coffee. If you share this feeling, I'm sure I'll be glad to share this voyage with you.

- Nero


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1 Comment

hawk hollywood
hawk hollywood
Nov 16, 2023

??? just dont play

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