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The Pitched Battle to Keep the Popular Children’s Game ‘Gacha Life’ SFK — Safe for Kids

Young players are using the anime dress-up app to create pornographic and downright deranged content, while the community is fighting to keep itself wholesome — and alive

On the surface, Gacha Life appears to be an ordinary children’s app. You customize your own anime characters, play simple minigames — like 1chi’s Math, where you solve elementary numerical problems — explore the extensive Gacha world and make friends with the game’s many non-playable characters. But more than anything else, kids love Gacha Life for its Studio Mode, which allows you to create watchable scenes with your personalized avatars. 

In fact, Studio Mode is often where “GachaTubers” begin the creation of their Gacha videos — music videos, skits, movies and even ongoing series that feature their Gacha Life characters. Most of the videos are exceptionally cringey, hence why r/GachaLifeCringe exists, but they garner hundreds of thousands, if not millions of views from young Gacha Life enthusiasts.

But beyond being cringey, GachaTube and the Gacha community more generally have a serious problem. As one review from a concerned parent describes, “The app is nice and cute but children have been abusing this app to make pornography and sensitive content involving sex, abuse, bullying and incest. Parents PLEASE watch your children! The community based around this app is TOXIC. Don’t be fooled by the chibi cutesy art style!”

Indeed, the Gacha community is known for repeatedly creating and releasing mature — and sometimes extremely problematic — content using clips from a children’s game, and the people making this content are often kids themselves. As the r/GachaLifeCringe moderators write in a joint message, “The ‘innocent kids’ and mature content makers are usually the exact same age, around nine to 14. With most of us having moderated this subreddit and having seen the content for a long time, we’ve noticed that there are hardly ever older people making it. This is one reason why the community is so terrible: You’ve got kids making this shit, while at the same time, having kids of the same age just trying to enjoy themselves with a game they like. With the current state of the Gacha community, it’s nigh impossible for an innocent child to avoid the mature content — there was even a recent incident where it was in the game itself — and this is why we advise younger age groups to never touch the game or community to begin with.” 

There have, in fact, been multiple questionable pieces of content within the game itself: For example, the aforementioned 1chi had a since-removed line of dialogue that referenced Boku no Pico, an anime notorious for its blatantly pedophelic and profoundly sexual scenes.

But outside of the game, the content in question comes in many forms. There are sexual YouTube thumbnails and titles like, “This Video Will Make You HRNYY!” There are Gacha movies that contain scenes where characters say things like, “If you see this, you have to hang yourself.” There are Gacha films that fetishize completely inappropriate themes, like pedophilia and rape. There’s also hentai-style Gacha porn (link NSFW) on sites like Pornhub.

Despite most of it existing beyond the game itself, all of this harmful content is tearing the Gacha community apart. One GachaTuber tells me, “It seems to be due to perverted users abusing the game for their own use. There’s not one specific group doing this, but just random players who are either trying to get attention from others on YouTube or who plainly enjoy abusing the purpose of the game. The creator of Gacha has worked very hard to make a game that’s fun and enjoyable for all, so it’s really upsetting to see others abusing it. Myself and a lot of other creators who enjoy the game have unfortunately seen this type of content quite a lot.”

Another GachaTuber says, “I see a lot of bad content being uploaded by new creators or creators who don’t like Gacha Life, and they create obscene content in the Gacha community that’s ruining the whole game. Please, just stop posting bad and inappropriate content — Gacha might disappear because of people who are abusing the Gacha Life rules.”

Despite the appreciation these GachaTubers display for Luni, the creator of Gacha Life, there are also those who believe he and his team are the ones in some way to blame for the spread of this inappropriate content. “There are many factors that make the Gacha community so insanely dangerous and toxic,” the r/GachaLifeCringe moderators explain. “What’s likely the most important one is the company and people that created the Gacha game series: Lunime.”

“From our observations and experiences, Lunime appears to be entirely incompetent and irresponsible when it comes to handling its huge community,” the r/GachaLifeCringe moderators argue. (I reached out to Lunime for comment, but didn’t receive a reply by the time of publication.) “Ignoring the fact that the games themselves are terribly coded and badly optimized, there are no safety features in place. Keep in mind that Lunime’s Gacha games are used by millions of children. They could even be placed on the same level as a game like Roblox.”

For comparison, “Roblox has an extensive chat filter and multiple safety features to ensure kids aren’t exposed to mature content,” the r/GachaLifeCringe moderators explain. “Gacha Life has virtually nothing aside from an easy-to-bypass swear filter in its now shut down chat rooms. You may notice that Gacha Life has a rudimentary mechanism in place that prevents people from making characters appear nude — this has actually only been added very recently, after Luni’s personal information was leaked and spread by a now-disbanded group of ‘hackers’ named ‘AGLC.’ Shit’s crazy, right? This update was added entirely too late, seeing as the game has been out for a very long time, and the damage has already been done with the egregious amount of mature Gacha content across the web.”

It should be noted that Luni and his team have made a few changes to the game in an attempt to address these concerns, such as removing a 9/11 joke from 1chi’s dialogue, as well as the Boku no Pico reference. As mentioned above, they (eventually) removed certain clothing options and skin colors that players were combining to make their characters appear to be naked. They removed several poses that some deemed sexually suggestive for a children’s game, like this hip-thrusting animation and a pole-dancing animation, which was allegedly meant to be a reference to firemen, not strippers. As well as removing the aforementioned Chat mode, where players were sending one another inappropriate content, Luni himself also took to Twitter earlier this year to take a direct stand against inappropriate Gacha Life content:

But still, the Gacha Life app alone has 2,437,918 Google reviews and counting, with many of the users spreading content far beyond the scope of the game, while there seems to be scant moderation all around. “Lunime has some huge online communities, which are very poorly moderated,” the r/GachaLifeCringe moderators say. “A lot of the moderators seem to be children themselves, which you can imagine is a recipe for disaster. The Discord server in particular is concerning, as their poor moderation puts children in danger when predators contact young members of the server. This has happened before, and it will likely continue to happen if they don’t get their act together and start recruiting people who understand the size and responsibility of their user base.” 

These are not idle accusations. Just last year, a Gacha Life community made the news when a 10-year-old girl was asked to send a topless photo using the Amino chat app to “verify her age.” A Lunime spokesperson commented at the time, saying, “This is a very serious situation, but it seems that this more concerns the Amino app than our app Gacha Life. There is no way to send another user an image in our game, which we did to prevent issues like this from happening.”

All of this combined results in a community where teens who play the game can easily create and share inappropriate content. “It appears most users of Lunime’s games are between nine and 14, primarily female, and have what we like to call the ‘don’t like it, don’t watch it’ stance,” the r/GachaLifeCringe moderators explain — in the description of the “gacha sex doing sex request” YouTube video below, the uploader writes, “please dont report if yo udont like it then why did you click on it.” “Since most of the users are children, it’s understandable that most won’t be able to comprehend how harmful this mature content can be to them. As such, they form opinions like, ‘Why do you care if we’re making mature content? Just leave us alone. We’re not hurting anyone. If you don’t like it, don’t watch it.’ Of course, the mature content creators are hurting children by exposing them to such things — they just don’t realize or care.”

There’s also a general lack of moderation on YouTube’s part. “YouTube is known by most to strictly enforce their policies, however, we’ve noticed that there’s almost no action being taken on these sexual and graphic Gacha videos, some of which are actual fucking porn,” the r/GachaLifeCringe moderators tell me. In fairness, YouTube has taken action against some GachaTubers — Jellobug_Studios, an infamous GachaTuber who was well known for creating sexual and sometimes incestuous Gacha content, “has been terminated due to multiple or severe violations of YouTube’s policy against spam, deceptive practices and misleading content or other Terms of Service violations.” A Change.org petition was even made to remove her from YouTube and received more than 1,000 votes. However, you can see that Jellobug_Studios has since created a new channel, writing in an introductory video that her old channel was “deleted by a group of assholes, but you know that’s just my life.”

Still, the ease at which you can stumble upon adult Gacha content — or at least content that uses adult themes in the thumbnails and titles to pull people in — on YouTube is glaringly obvious. Searching even basic phrases, like “Gacha Life,” “How to Make a Gacha Movie” or “Gacha Life mini movies” can pull up thumbnails like these:

And as the r/GachaLifeCringe moderators point out, “A lot of these videos are even monetized, which provides people with an incentive to make sexual Gacha content. Sex sells!”

The infamous GachaTuber Gamers Nation, an 18-year-old man, is a good example of everything the r/GachaLifeCringe moderators describe. Just one month ago, he made a video kinda/sorta apologizing for creating sexual Gacha videos, which resulted in his channel being terminated. He managed to get his channel back, though, saying he’d stop with the sexual thumbnails and titles. Yet less than a month later, he’s uploaded numerous explicitly themed videos, such as “THEY TRIED TO RAPE ME,” “SOLD MY BODY FOR FAME” and “Feisty And Lusty.”

“Looking in the comment sections on some of these videos, you can sometimes find straight-up child predators,” the r/GachaLifeCringe moderators warn. “The Gacha community is heaven for predators, seeing as it’s essentially millions of hormonal children whose minds are already desensitized to sexual content.”

I spent a lot of time scrolling through comments under Gacha videos on YouTube, and while there’s no shortage of questionable comments, the inherent anonymity of the platform makes it impossible to know who’s really behind these avatars. One thing I noticed a lot of, though, is the community attempting to police itself. For example, this comment under the Gamers Nation “apology” video rightfully chastises him for making any sort of explicit content out of a game directed toward kids:

In fact, just as there are comments applauding the sexual content, every explicit Gacha video also seems to have its share of comments pleading for them to stop, oftentimes using hashtags like #SaveTheGachaCommunity or the slightly more direct #StopSexualVideosSaveTheGachaCommunity. Indeed, there have been some serious concerns about Gacha Life being shut down due to the widespread proliferation of this type of content.

There are even Gacha videos that pull viewers in with sexual thumbnails and titles, then berate them for clicking and ask that they instead respect the community by protesting against inappropriate Gacha content.

Overall, the Gacha community certainly has a problem, but where exactly that problem stems from and how to deal with it remains unclear. Most of it appears to be young teens doing what young teens do: Exploring sexuality, albeit in mega-cringey and sometimes downright deranged ways, using a game that they really enjoy. Sure, the game itself has had some questionable content, but it’s really nothing compared to what GachaTubers and other Gacha creators are putting out there, much of which Lunime has virtually no control over. 

So is Gacha Life the problem? Is YouTube the problem? Is the internet the problem? 

As ever, it’s a perfect storm of everything combined. But one thing we can be sure of: When trolling, edgelord teens are involved, pleas to keep things SFW are likely to continue to fall on deaf ears.

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