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Mon, Aug 16, 2010
The New Paper
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Popular arcade game too much like casino jackpot?
by Veena Bharwani

THEY push the buttons of the arcade game for hours, hoping to get the extremely rare Animal Kaiser card called Siegfried.

Xenith Wong, 9, his brother Xavier, 11, and their parents spent over $80 playing more than 40 games two Saturday afternoons ago at an arcade in Hougang Mall.

They were hoping to get the coveted Siegfried card to add to their burgeoning Animal Kaiser card collection.

They succeeded after more than two hours of button-mashing. The Wongs are diehard fans of Animal Kaiser.

They spend more than $600 and about 30 hours at arcades every month.

Animal Kaiser, which arrived in 2008, is a hit arcade game in which players seek to create the strongest animal on earth. In the game, people play as their animal avatars.

It is played on over 200 kiosks in arcades and at selected 7-Eleven stores. Amusement arcades like Zone X even hold weekly tournaments.

Infocomm Asia Holdings, which operates all the Animal Kaiser machines, held the first Animal Kaiser tournament at Novena Square in March.

Over 2,000 people took part – 1,500 of them were under 12.

The Wong family participated in the tournament and Xenith won the children’s category.

After more than a year of playing the game, the Wongs have accumulated over a thousand cards and several hundred ‘rare’ or strong cards.

It was Xavier who got the family hooked last year.

Showing off his gold card collection, he told The New Paper on Sunday: “I love collecting gold cards. I had to play for a long time before I got more.”

During school holidays, the family visits the arcades almost daily, said the mother, Mrs Madeline Wong.

Said the 38-year-old housewife: “It’s like playing jackpot, we get a thrill when we get a good card.”

But isn’t she afraid that her children may develop a penchant for gambling?

After all, the game entices the player to spend more money to get the rare cards.

The boys’ father, Mr Wong Keng Chong, 41, who works in sales, said: “It does work a bit like gambling but we are there to monitor the kids. It is a chance for us to spend time together.”

He added: “It’s not like the children eat, sleep and think Animal Kaiser. They do other things (like swimming) as well.”

In fact, Mr Wong may be the biggest culprit.

“Most of the time, I am the one who spends more time at the machines to get the good cards. So I am the one who is ‘gambling’ for them to get the good cards.

“(Animal Kaiser) is just our indoor sports,” he added with a laugh.

The New Paper on Sunday also spoke to other parents whose children play Animal Kaiser.

Like the Wongs, they did not appear too perturbed that their children might pick up gambling.


Production planner Jennifer Teng, 42, said she watches her 11-year-old son Xavier, play the game two to three times a week.

She said: “Yes, it is like gambling. But I don’t mind. I’m always with him.
“I limit it to five games per session. I’m controlling it.”

Xavier was among 10 children who The New Paper on Sunday saw playing the game at the 7-Eleven store at Boon Keng MRT station on Thursday evening.

He pulled out his album full of Animal Kaiser cards and said proudly: “I have 42 gold cards.”

But some parents are wary.

Said Madam Susan Lye, 37, who works in sales: “I really don’t want my son to start playing the game. It’s violent as animals fight each other and there is very little skill involved.”

“The numbers spin like a jackpot machine. I really don’t like it.”


ANIMAL Kaiser is a coin-based arcade game. You play against the machine or against another player.

Players choose an animal to represent them. They earn one card of a random creature, at the end of each round.

These cards are dispensed randomly. The rarer the card, the greater the avatar’s strength.

There are three types of cards – animal cards, strong cards and miracle cards, each assigned different points.

The game operators do not sell the cards.

The aim of the game is to amass the stronger cards.

Players earn more cards by playing more games or buying them from other players.

Rare cards are traded online.A check on the Zone X forum – a popular forum for arcade game lovers – showed that a complete set of latest Animal Kaiser cards (81 in a set) sells for about $300.


This article was first published in The New Paper.

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