I never knew that wasting time online
could inspire me so much.
Since I’m still waiting for my On Demand to get fixed (and I am not very patient at the best of times, but especially when I have just one episode left in an anime series!) today I’m sharing my latest internet obsession with you, dear reader. It’s a social gaming site that originated in Japan called TinierMe. While I’ve never been on the Japanese website, I have been logging onto the English version for about six months now. It’s no coincidence that is also the time frame of how long ago I began getting into anime and manga: while you could certainly play and not be an anime fan, the site is very much geared toward anime and Japanese culture in general. In fact what drew me in were the ads I saw on Facebook that utilized images from Black Butler. I had no clue what it was, but I had some time to kill, so what the hey, let’s see what this website that keeps flashing seductive images of Sebastian Michaelis is all about.
Here’s the scoop: TinierMe is kind of, well, everything. It’s a social site first and foremost, so users are encouraged to create detailed avatars. To begin with you choose a skin colour, which can’t be changed. However, everything else is meant to be switched out time and time again: facial features, hair, tops, trousers, coats, hats, glasses, necklaces, and shoes, as well as back and hand accessories. There are even (much cherished) items called backgrounds that frame your avatar (called your “Selfy”) on your profile page. You’re also given a personal room (like a virtual bedroom) that’s private to just you (if you wish, or public if you prefer) that you can decorate as well. And you can purchase a “ChibiPet,” which you need to feed, bathe, and play with, but they find treasure for you. There are literally thousands of items for use on your Selfy, in your room, or for your ChibiPet, all of which you can purchase in the Selfy Shop or obtain through the Gachas (more on those later).
Once you have your Selfy picked out you can fill out a personal profile (listing favourite anime and manga is usually par for the course), post diary entries, join fan groups, discuss any number of topics on message boards, and chat in various chat rooms.
There are games to play such as Old Maid or Sevens during which you can chat with the other gamers, or you can simply wander around “Selfy Town” and strike up random conversations with anyone you happen to see. There are specific events that encourage you to make friends by rewarding you for “exchanging rings” (an action performed by the avatars in Selfy Town) or inviting a set number of users into your room or gifting so many users. You even get more Chibi Coins per day by having higher numbers of friends on your friends list.
Speaking of which, Chibi Coins are a key ingredient for what I consider to be TinierMe’s main draw: the Gachas. Certainly there are many games that you can play both solo and with other users, and often you receive Chibi Coins as a reward. The Gachas are where you get to spend those coins. You could spend them in the Selfy Shop, but that’s a basic transaction: see what you want, earn the coins, purchase it. However, the Gachas are much more fun because they operate like the coin-operated toy vending machines outside of supermarkets: you never know what you’re going to get. You could end up with a lowly hand accessory, or you could get a big prize such as an animated item (known as “animoots” or simply “moots,” these are generally valued the highest).
There are many different themed Gachas going on at any given time, but after several weeks they become “retired” (which elevates the value of the items obtained from them). There are also different items available for different prices within any given Gacha: Chibi Coin Gachas (which you play with the Chibi Coins you obtain for free by playing games) and G-Coin Gachas. G-Coins have to be either paid for with actual money or earned by doing sponsored surveys. You can also earn “G-Tickets” by obtaining every item in a Chibi Coin Gacha, which allows you one free play of any 50 G-Coin Gacha.
There are many more details that I could easily go into about this highly interactive site, but I’ll stick with the general overview. TinierMe’s draw is different for each user, but I find it unique in the way that it does foster actual virtual community. Personally I didn’t join for friends (that’s what I have Facebook for) choosing instead to focus on my love of fashion and dressing my Selfy in the lavish clothing that I can’t sew or afford in real life.
But the more time that I spent trying to obtain retired Gacha items through trading, the more involved I became overall with the entire site. At this point I have friends’ diaries that I read and comment on (and not just for the Chibi Coins you receive for doing so, but because I actually want to!), I’m a member of a neat Facebook group that helps its members earn Chibi Coins and special FB gifts as well as gives out tips on general gameplay, and I maintain a trade list at an outside website built specifically for TinierMe Trading.
I find myself getting an actual buzz from making a great trade and obtaining a much-desired item (paging Wall Street, I may have missed my calling!) and I also enjoy gifting items that I don’t care for to users who love them. I even did an “art trade” wherein I sent a user a pair of shoes for her Selfy and she sent me a Jpeg of Sebastian Michaelis that she drew herself. (Art trades are fairly popular, and I love how the site encourages creativity through fashion and art). I haven’t spent any real money on the site and I don’t intend to ever do so because I can’t justify spending actual money on virtual items (despite how lovely some of those items are). However, there’s still an amazing amount of enjoyment to be gained from this site (as well as an enormous amount of time wasted) without spending a penny. You can play TinierMe on Facebook, but in order to get the full benefit of the game you need to play on both TinierMe.com and FB.
It’s incredible how this Japanese website became so far-reaching and united an entire globe of anime, manga, and J-pop lovers. I frequently message users worldwide, and even if it’s for something as simple as an accessory trade, it’s still kind of cool to think about.