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Japanese arcade game driving beetle extinction

Kyle Orland

"Gotta catch 'em all" has taken on a new meaning with a recent Japanese video game craze helping to drive the real-life extinction to the a subspecies of Turkish beetle. The Times Online reports that the popularity of bug-collecting arcade game Mushiking (King of the Beetles) is leading Japanese fans to import a million of the insects as pets each year, decimating the indigenous population.

"All we want to do is end the trade in our stag beetles," said Nazim Sonmez, chairman of the Amanos Environmental Protection Association. "They are being collected for economic reasons rather than research purposes. The stag beetle is under threat of extinction. It must be stopped."

Bug collecting is a long-standing tradition in Japan that has appeared in games from The Legend of Zelda to Animal Crossing, but Mushiking has raised the activity to a national craze to rival Pokemon. The Sega arcade unit engages players in a rock-paper-scissors style battle of digital insects printed on collectible cards, more than 160 million of which have been printed to date.

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