Frog's journey goes viral for Shanghai's young people

Updated 2018-01-24 09:25:01

A woman "raises" two frogs on her two phones as only one frog can be played per phone. The game of "Traveling Frog" has gone viral among young people. (Jiang Xiaowei/SHINE)

Japanese mobile game "Tabi Kaeru," or "Traveling Frog" in English, has gone viral among local youth, particularly among female players.

"The game caters to the softest part of some white-collars," said He Yunfeng, head of Shanghai Normal University's institute of knowledge and value sciences. "Many of them are striving for a living here in an unfamiliar city. They may empathize with the game as the frog has its own adventure which is completely out of the player's hands."

In the game players need to prepare a frog for a journey. Players harvest clover as currency to buy props and make a backpack for the frog before he goes on the journey. The frog will send postcards and bring back souvenirs.

It had become the most downloaded free app in the simulation game section of the Apple store by yesterday.

The game provides little interaction room for players. "Except for preparing lunchbox and harvesting clovers, all you can do is wait for it to come home," said Li Jiahe, who is obsessed with the game after playing it for two weeks.

"The game reminds me of my time at university away from home," said Dong Xiaoqi, who works in Shanghai but is from Ningbo in Zhejiang Province. "I thought my mother was nagging at the time when she constantly asking me about my life here. Isn't it grotesque to understand a mother's mind via such a game!"

In Japanese, "kaeru" pronounced in Japanese means "frog" as noun, it also means "homecoming" as a verb.

The game is popular among young people as it shows a Buddhism concept. The concept refers to people who see through the emptiness of the material world and follow their heart. They find relationships troublesome and prefer to be alone.

Players like Dong refer themselves as "the mom" of the frog.

"My frog has been gone for three days, where did he go?" Cheng Chen, an office worker in an accounting firm mumbles to herself during lunch. "It is a fair escape for me to temporarily absent myself from workplace." Cheng installed the game in both her working phone and private phone.

"Some souvenirs, such as a Japanese style tumbler, are quite rare to collect," Li said of the game. "I spent 25 yuan () to buy 2,800 clovers to redeem an amulet."

According to many players, the props will have some influence on the frog's destination or trip times, but the frog's journey is random. "It is said if you prepare a pasty in its lunchbox, the frog will go to somewhere far," said Dong. "Basically, you have no control on the game whatsoever."

According to statistics from research firm App Annie which tracks the mobile application market and user behavior, players have spent about 0,000 on the game by Sunday, one month after its debut.

App Annie didn't provide Android market figures. But the game is "surprisingly popular" in its application store, said Oppo, one of the top three Chinese smartphone vendors.

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