TikTok roleplayers have made a viral game out of trading

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Roleplaying is popular on TikTok, though normally it means someone dresses up in cosplay to make a video where they welcome you to their fantasy tavern (opens in new tab), or maybe offer you a quest (opens in new tab). Over the last month, a new kind of roleplaying trend has overtaken the platform. It’s called “dabloons”, and the hashtag has over 730 million views (opens in new tab).

TikToker Sweezy (opens in new tab) claims the credit for starting it, having posted a slideshow (opens in new tab) that offers the hungry viewer a hamburger and ends with the punchline that it’ll cost you “4 dabloons”, as demanded by a cat holding up four claws. (An image that had previously become a meme on Instagram (opens in new tab).) Others continued the gag with slideshows and videos offering bowls of fresh stew, soup, or entire RPG shopping experiences (opens in new tab), while yet others featured cats and other characters (opens in new tab), but mostly cats, who handed out the imaginary currency instead.

Soon players were keeping track of their wealth and inventory in the Notes app, on paper character sheets, or making entire dabloon accountancy spreadsheets (opens in new tab). And where there’s wealth, there’s crime. 

That includes muggers who demand the viewers’ dabloons (opens in new tab), self-declared dabloon launderers (opens in new tab), and counterfeiters whose too-good-to-be-true offers are revealed to be fake at the videos’ end. Apparently there are dabloon assassins out there as well? An entire economy complete with its own black market has sprung up, as documented by this warning of the inflation that will surely follow (opens in new tab).

If you’re baffled by all this you’re not alone. A substantial number of videos on the hashtag come from people who are bemused by the whole nonsensical situation (opens in new tab). But the internet’s always been a place where people will take anything “ha ha only serious”, where anything can accrue a bunch of made-up rules and become a game overnight. Like The Game (opens in new tab), which you just lost.

It can’t be long now until the dabloons people start asking questions. They’ve created an imaginary economy, but how are dabloons any less made-up than cryptocurrency? For that matter, how are dabloons less made-up than any money that isn’t handed out by an internet cat? Capitalism is all just a game of let’s pretend we play along with, when you like really think about it, man.

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Anyway, in the meantime I hear there’s a lady dressed up in cosplay who has items for sale (opens in new tab) at competitive prices that haven’t yet been affected by the dabloon inflation crisis.

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