Gacha Life is a free role-playing game where players can create and customise their own anime-style characters. For each character a player creates there are a range of customisable options such as outfits and accessories but also the appearance and body position of each character. Players use the characters they create to make scenes which can be built into a short story. There are a range of in-app games available for users to play as well as in-app purchases. There are many other games within the Gacha franchise and Gacha Life and other Gacha subsets have a huge following on other social media platforms, such as YouTube and TikTok. It is on these third-party platforms where players can upload the stories they create within the Gacha Life game.   One Gacha Life subset available on other platforms is Gacha Heat, which features the characters from Gacha Life in highly inappropriate and sexualised videos.

Gacha Life has been given an age rating of 9+ on the Apple App Store and ‘Everyone’ on the Google Play Store.

The Gacha Life privacy policy states “our service is not directed to children under the age of 13” however it does not offer an official age rating for the game.

Find out more about age ratings in our ‘A parent and carer’s guide to age ratings of apps and games’.

Gacha Life is popular with children and pre-teens, especially girls. The anime-style of the games is visually appealing and reflects the style of some other popular games and TV programmes that younger players may be familiar with. The design of the platform means it is easy for younger players to use, working their way through pre-set options to play and create. The creative nature of Gacha Life is appealing to children who enjoy role play or small-world play and even those with an interest in animation or short film making. The game allows users to make their own short stories using a set of characters, which some players choose to upload onto other video platforms.

  • A Japanese word that refers to small toys that can be purchased from vending machines in Japan.

  • This refers to a style of Japanese film and television animation. Popular anime films and programmes include ‘Pokemon’ and ‘Spirited Away’.

  • Stands for non-player characters. These are computer operated characters rather than being operated by another person. Players on Gacha Life can interact and chat with these characters.

  • Sexually explicit content made by users of Gacha Life who upload their videos to other platforms like TikTok or YouTube. Gacha Heat is particularly concerning as the content is often violent, heavily sexualised and inappropriate for younger viewers.

  • This is where players can create their own scenes within the game and add text to their characters. Players can include up to 8 characters in their scene.

  • Players can combine up to 100 different scenes to create sketches or stories with up to two characters. Some players choose to upload their skits or sketches to other platforms such as YouTube and TikTok.

  • Here, players can explore different areas and scenes within the game with their characters and meet new NPCs and chat with them.

  • There is an in-player chat feature within the game which can only be accessed once players reach level 10. Once you reach this level, you can share scenes, characters and skits with other players on the platform. To develop your level, you need to play in ‘Live’ mode and develop good relationships with different NPCs.

  • Within the platform there are 8 mini-games users can play where they can win free gems as an award. Gems can be used to purchase ‘Stamina’ or to buy virtual gifts to give to other NPCs within the game.

  • Characters can run out of stamina after certain activities. To replace it, players can get their characters to sit still or they can buy more stamina with gems.

  • This refers to sitting still in order to increase stamina.

The nature of Gacha Life means that all scenes and stories are user-generated, and it can be difficult to moderate the content that is produced. Interactivity in the app is limited until level 10, before which there is no chat. At level 10, chat can be unlocked. However, Gacha Life has a large following on other platforms such as YouTube and TikTok, where players regularly upload the skits they have created in the game. The wealth of Gacha Life content that is available on these third-party platforms is extensive and varied in its content. It is not hard to find content created by players which involves violent and heavily sexualised stories using the Gacha Life characters. Gacha Heat is a specific sub-set of content created by users of Gacha Life that is highly sexual and sexually violent in nature. This poses a significant risk to younger Gacha players, as they may view these videos on other platforms thinking they are similar to the Gacha Life game. It is recommended that parents and carers supervise younger players when playing or searching for Gacha Life, and check the parental controls and safety settings on these third-party apps to ensure younger viewers are not exposed to inappropriate Gacha videos.

Gacha Life allows players to create and customise their own anime-style characters from a pre-set list of features. Whilst this is part of the fun and creativity for players, it does focus significantly on style and image, with many of the features reinforcing certain gender stereotypes. For younger players, reinforce that these anime-style characters are cartoons and do not reflect what people look like in reality.

Previously, the Gacha Life app allowed all players to chat and connect with one another. However, this feature has now been adjusted so that only players who reach level 10 can access the chat function. There have been cases where players were asking younger users to confirm their age on the game by sending self-generated nude or semi-nude images of themselves to verify their age. If your child has access to the chat function within the game, speak to them about what is acceptable to send in a message and remind them to speak to a trusted adult if they are asked to share an image of themselves. Explain the importance of not sharing any personal or identifiable information with other players within chats. Encourage them to tell you if they have been asked more personal questions, to share images or to chat privately using a different app.

Within the game there are a range of pre-set characters known as NPC’s. Players are able to include them in the scenes and skits that they make. Whilst these characters are not operated by another person, they have been designed by another user. The game encourages players to follow the creators of the NPCs on other platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and YouTube and invites players to ‘Join the community’ on the main page of the game. As mentioned above, the Gacha community is vast and not all of the content shared on these third-party apps is suitable for younger users. It is recommended that you monitor your child when using the app to ensure they do not follow the links to other platforms where they can interact with other people.

A key behaviour risk associated with the Gacha Life game is linked to the content shared on third-party apps. As with any shareable content, users need to be aware of the impact that sharing content may have on their digital footprint and its impact on other viewers. As the game allows users to create their own scenes and skits, some players have used this as a platform to create and share highly inappropriate and offensive content, which can be upsetting and disturbing for some younger viewers.  Have a conversation with your child to help them understand what is and is not appropriate for them to share, and discuss the various ways they can protect themselves by sharing in private rather than public forums. Ensure your child knows it can be difficult to keep ownership of any content once it has been shared online, as content can easily be copied and reposted without their knowledge and can then become difficult to remove from the internet.

As with most free online games, there are opportunities for players to make in-game purchases within the ‘Shop’ tab, where players need to enter bank details to purchase upgrades. These do not benefit the gameplay, but they can nonetheless be extremely appealing. Speak to your child about in-app purchases and ensure they understand that real money is used to make purchases within the game. Parents and carers are advised to set up relevant in-app purchase settings on the individual device. It is also important to check that the game is not linked to your bank cards or financial details.

As with many other online games, it can be difficult for children to manage the amount of time they spend on the platform. Gacha Life has various opportunities to progress through levels and collect gifts and characters, some of which are unlocked as you progress through levels. Talk to your child about how games are designed to keep users playing and work together to set gaming time limits to ensure they get a suitable break away from the game.

Like many free online games, there is also a high volume of pop-up adverts that appear whilst playing. Pop-up adverts can be disturbing during gameplay and may feature products that are unsuitable for younger players. You are unable to disable adverts from the game, so speak to your child about pressing the cross to remove the advert once it has started playing and to tell you if they have seen something that upsets them.

  • As you do not need to register or set up an account to play Gacha Life, there are no privacy settings. Explore the parental controls on your individual devices and broadband service, which may allow you to put filters and blocks in place.

  • As you do not need to register or set up an account to play Gacha Life, it is difficult to manage interactions or content. Explore the parental controls on your individual devices and broadband service, which may allow you to put filters and blocks in place.

  • There are no reporting or blocking functions available within the app.

  • Whilst this game is free to play, in-game purchases are available. You can disable in-app purchases on each individual device itself.

    To disable in-app purchases on iOS:

    • Go to ‘Settings’ > ‘Screen time’ and scroll down to ‘Content and privacy restrictions’.
    • Select ‘iTunes and App Store purchases’ and set the option to ‘Don’t allow’.

    To disable in-app purchases on Android:

    • Go to your Google Play Store app.
    • Select ‘Menu’ > ‘Settings’ > ‘Require authentication for purchases’.

Gacha Life is one of many Gacha games within the franchise. As mentioned above, parents and carers should be aware of the wider Gacha community and the large following it has on third-party apps. The risks and settings within this guide apply to the Gacha Life game only. Privacy, interactivity and settings may be different on the different Gacha games.

If your child has a particular interest in Gacha Life, you should check the safety settings and parental controls on other apps such as YouTube, to ensure your child does not see Gacha content that is not suitable for their age or stage of development.