Planet China

Hooked

Chen Zhitong’s reputation as ‘the Clawmaster’ owes to an exceptional skill. The computer programmer from Xiamen is one of the world’s best at playing the amusement arcade game in which a mechanical claw clutches at prizes, often a cuddly doll.

According to China News Service, Chen has won more than 15,000 dolls over the past two years and he has become something of a bête noire for arcade operators. “The owners are unhappy to see me and have long faces when I show up in the shopping mall. Sometimes when they see me coming they refuse to replenish the machines with dolls,” he notes.

Oriental Daily says Chen started using the claw machines in 2015 and in the first six months he was not very proficient. He then spent about Rmb20,000 ($2,900) trying to improve.

“I do not actually like the dolls, but in the process of clawing I feel very excited,” Chen explains. His personal best is clawing up 100 dolls in a single evening. He says the best time to play is immediately after the operators have replenished their machines and that to succeed you must calculate the centre of gravity of each doll. One of his other discoveries: some machines are not worth playing, as they have been preset to make it impossible to grab anything. Clearly the exercise has turned into something of a compulsion for Chen, who says he gave away 1,000 of his prizes to charity last year.


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