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Why has 'Travel Frog' gone viral on China's Internet?

Updated:2018-01-24 16:51:51   CGTN

A mobile game that lets you raise a virtual frog has become surprisingly popular in China.

Called Tabikaeru, which translates to Travel Frog, the game features an adorable frog who loves to go on adventures. Using clovers as currency, players can purchase food and travel supplies for the frog, then they can pack its luggage before sending it on its way. It will then post pictures and souvenirs back from its trip.

The game was launched last December, and was developed by Japan’s Hit-Point, the company best known for creating Neko Atsume, a cat-collecting mobile game that also went viral after its launch in October 2014.

A fan-made sticker saying "I love to study, studying makes me happy."/Photo via Weibo

Although only available in Japanese, the adorable characters and easy playability soon attracted a huge group of fans in China, becoming one of the hottest topics among Chinese netizens.

‘I’m worried about my frog son’

“My frog has been gone for more than 24 hours, I’m getting worried.” “My frog has been eating for an hour, that’s too much for its stomach.” These are the common comments about Travel Frog.

Some fans love the game so much that they are making a manga featuring the frog and his friends, and creating stickers out of pictures of the frog to use on social media platforms.

Lots of fans see the frog as their child, and refer it as “my frog son”.

“Only by playing this game did I start to realize how anxious a mother would be when her child was far away,” said Zhang Yu, a female fan who has been playing the game for two weeks.

“It is not intense like DOTA, which makes me feel very anxious and worried about the victory or defeat in a game. At the same time, I think the Travel Frog stepped into the vacuum of the female game market in China,” Zhang added.

Picture sent back by the frog. /CGTN Photo

“It’s very addictive, I can’t stop checking my frog's status,” Zhao Qing, a 26-year-old female player told CGTN Digital. “I’m not paying for in-game currency at the moment, but I think I will if I keep playing it.”

However, not everyone is drawn to the cute animal.

“What I don't understand is the meaning of the game. You adopt a frog, and watch it read or make handcraft or eat for maybe a couple of hours, and you get worried when it goes out for a trip,” one of CGTN Digital's culture editors shared his thoughts on the game.

“Some of my friends even get excited when the frog sends back a photo during its trip. I guess that's the charm of gaming, that you get to relate to the frog almost instantly and become really attached to it. But to me, it's not something real,” he added. 

Editor: Wang Shixue

Keywords:   Travel Frog China