The claw machine, while looking deceptively easy, is arguably one of the most challenging games in any arcade. If you are the competitive type who does not like losing, it is best to stay away — unless, of course, you are as skillful as Chen Zhitong from China who is considered a master of claw machines.
“Of course I won’t stop, I’ve already lost count,” said Chen, who has already filled his room dedicated to his arcade winnings. In six months, he was able to rack up more than 3,000 stuffed toys from different arcades. His impressive feat has earned him the title: “the Claw Machine God” at Jianghu, one of the local shopping malls in China.
At the risk of filling his entire house of toys, he has become selective of his games.
“It’s like picking a diamond and it can be expensive to play,” Chen said. “I’ve already got all of the normal dolls anyway. I once saw a university student put online a picture of his collection, saying ‘claw machine owners are already crying their hearts out!’ I l saw it and laughed it off, it wasn’t even one tenth of my collection, thank you very much.”
He added: “The first time I played was last year in July, it was really random, I saw the machine in the entrance of a supermarket. I didn’t think much of it, it was just a way to kill time.”
Later on, he discovered he was indeed special when he noticed people begin to gather around and watch him play. He was even able to clear out an entire machine in one day.
“One time, the most toys I won in one sitting was over 100,” Chen said. “I’m not actually interested in the dolls themselves, it’s the process of getting them. It’s pretty exciting.”
“I give myself a limit. I figure that the cost of one doll is around 10 yuan to make, so I don’t go over five yuan when playing, if I can’t get it I don’t get it.”
For budding claw machine enthusiasts, the master says part of his technique is to check out how much a claw shakes, which may determine the strength of the grip.
“The extent of the claw’s shakiness can tell you if the grip is really bad, so of course you can’t get dolls with it,” he explained.