You're probably imagining a bin of hamsters terrified of that strange metal claw that every so often drops down from the sky and takes away one of their little hamster friends. Thankfully, this isn't what happened. In order to win a hamster people at a Hyogo Prefecture arcade had to use the crane game's claw to pick up ping pong balls and drop them into a hole. If done successfully, the player would win an empty cage, which they could then use to claim their totally not dead or stuffed, living, breathing hamster. However, even though the game did not allow players to pick up hamsters with the mechanical claw, the machine did have inside it cages containing hamsters in order to show players what they could potentially win. The game is said to have cost 500 yen per play.
Although the game machine had the somewhat wacky name of "The Living Thing Catcher Part 3" (生物きゃっちゃ～第三弾 ikimono kyacchaa dai san dan), the arcade made sure to include text on the machine that clearly told people not to play if they weren't serious about owning a hamster. The machine also had text on itthat explained how to take care of a hamster. However, it seems that these warnings weren't enough to keep people from taking to Twitter and criticizing the arcade for their use of live animals as prizes.
Starting in late December people concerned about the well-being of the hamsters began to tweet about the strange hamster crane game. These tweets continued into the beginning of this month and eventually caught the attention of the Hyogo arcade. The arcade responded by apologizing via Twitter on January 10th. In their apology they explained that they had heard people's concerns and realized that they had been treating these living things as nothing more than merchandise. They also revealed that they had removed the machine on January 8th and found homes for all three of the remaining hamsters.
J-Cast News is reporting that since the machine was set up in October of last year 104 hamsters were given away as prizes. The remaining three hamsters were given to arcade employees.
If you'd like to watch an amusing CG recreation of this story, then check out the TomoNews Japan video below.
Sources: J-Cast News, TomoNews Japan