A two-year addiction to claw machines has landed a man in Changhua County’s Tianjhong Township (田中) with a NT$150,000 monthly salary repairing the games.
Two years ago, Wu Wei-en (巫維恩), 20, was helping his older sister move into a building in Tainan when he noticed a claw machine outlet on the first floor.
Deciding to try his luck, he won a robot vacuum cleaner that retails for about NT$300 after having fed NT$3,000 into the machines.
Photo: Yen Hung-chun, Taipei Times
Wu said that from that moment he became addicted to claw machines.
It was as if he had become “possessed,” he said.
Every day, he would follow experts’ advice on the Internet and then play at different stores, he said.
Soon, he was spending all of his salary and savings on the game, said Wu, who was earning NT$35,000 a month as a solar panel repairman at the time.
In his first year as a claw machine player, he found himself in debt, he said.
He traveled across the nation to play claw machines, at one point spending NT$7,000 to NT$8,000 a day, he said.
His parents urged him to stop, but he did not listen, Wu said, adding that he ended up borrowing money from family and friends to cover expenses.
However, after a year, he became an expert player, and was skilled enough to win enough items to pay down his debts, he said.
The speed of the claw and the rhythm of its swing all help determine a player’s chances of winning a prize, he said.
Winning a prize comes down to “whether or not you understand this machine’s personality,” Wu said, adding that he typically can determine whether a machine is “worth playing” after 40 to 50 tries.
Today, he has about NT$500,000 of prizes — including high-value electronics — that he sells online when he needs money, he said.
About six months ago, Wu met the owner of a chain of claw machine outlets who was impressed by his skills and hired him as a repairman.
Now, Wu earns NT$150,000 a month tuning and repairing claw machines.
He never thought that working with claw machines could be his career, Wu said.
When he was addicted to the game, he had to “beg for food,” and now the game is his livelihood, he said.
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