I have a dozen of stories about UFO Catchers… mostly involving people I know who are addicted to them. I’m not that into them myself, but I’m sure if I played it often enough, I could quickly get drawn into the dark side of UFO Catching.
UFO Catchers aren’t a new thing in Japan. In fact, they were around years ago, when I first visited as an exchange student. My friends and I had tried it, but since none of us got anything, we were careful not to try again. One boy in our group, though, had gotten hooked, spending all his pocket money on it, but getting nothing back. He said he kicked the machine, which he claims gave the kid after him 2 toys.
A close friend of mine collects Disney dolls from UFO Catchers. She and her husband play all the time. They seem to have mastered the technique of playing, since they have a collection of over 300 dolls!
My favorite story is about a co-worker who got hooked one day, just out of the blue. He spent hours trying to win, saying he was not going home a loser. So he instead spent a total of ￥6000 playing, taking home all kinds of key chains and candies. When he told us later that his wife gave him a budget of ￥1500/day for expenses, we were all teasing him that it was probably because she didn’t want him spending all his money on the UFO Catcher anymore…