Taiwanese Claw Games

Written byZoe Mei

Claw games are hugely popular in Taiwan. To the extent that there are places dedicated to them dotted around the cities. A lot of the places are left open 24/7, like this one. With no attendant, and only a sign notifying patrons of web cam surveillance to deter any skulduggery.

抓物機 抓物机 Zhuā wù jī Claw game “grab stuff machine”

This place was old. I only just noticed it as I cycled past. The glow of the lights in an otherwise dark, narrow, makeshift building attracted me. It looked like it had been cut out a shipping container and dumped there, squeezed between two shops.

Glowing machines await players

The machines had seen better days, too. Some of them with barely an prizes inside and others looked like the prizes had just been thrown in.

A heavy emphasis on Japanese culture and anime

Claw games in Taiwan are interesting as they don’t only have stuffed toys in them but any array of random things. Card games, watches, lighters, USB devices – anything really. Some even have snacks in them, like the worst vending machine you ever used.

A young couple stopped by while I was there and seemed to be enjoying looking in each machine. I asked them if they were looking for anything in particular. The girl replied that they come now and again to see if there is anything interesting. I’m sure this is kind of a hobby for some people, collecting rare items things from claw games.

A well used joystick

Not all claw game places look as old and well-used as this did. A lot are brand new and gleaming, and well stocked with goodies. But that wouldn’t make for interesting photos. Maybe I’ll take a few photos next time I pass one to compare.

Claw games are also sometimes referred to as:

釣物機 钓物机 Diào wù jī Claw game. “fish for stuff machine”

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