How much is a Doblone them on TikTok? Or rather, how much is four doubloons worth? On TikToka meme of a cat with its paw fingers spread and the inscription “4 dabloons” has somehow become a viral RPG with its own internal economy. To then disappear within 72 hours.
TikTok Dabloons: How a cat meme becomes an RPG
Who is that cat who offers help in exchange for doubloons in the most successful RPG in TikTok history? To understand it, you don’t need to find an ancient parchment or draw on elven knowledge, just visit the KnowYourMeme site.
It was April 2021, the location was the Instagram account of catz.jpeg. Whoever manages that account posts a blurry image of a cat with a paw entering the frame with four fingers spread. Below, the inscription “4 dabloons”, an intentional typo of “4 doubloons”.
The cat that seems to be asking for coins like in a video game has an inevitable success, so much so that it arrives early in October. Where it soon becomes a memes from four panels which follows a specific format. The cat offers the reader hot food or interesting gifts, then asks for “4 dabloons” in return.
On November 19, the variant proposed by @eblxxdyblxxd was re-proposed on the platform until it went viral: the 4 dabloons conquered TikTok.
From meme to game
The meme comes from a cliché of many fantasy games, with merchants placed in strategic positions for the game (but usually too dangerous to make sense) selling the sword and potions that the players really need. But not wasn’t really meant to be an RPG.
But TikTok users have started making this cat the protagonist of a series of videos, created by accounts born with the sole purpose of advancing the storyto. The cat becomes a merchant in a plot full of dangers: thieves steal dabloons, mystical weapons and fantastic creatures are born out of nowhere to protect the doubloons players have accumulated on the social platform. Shops are springing up, lairs for criminal organizations, improvised governments. All around those “dabloons” a cat asked for on Instagram over a year ago.
Players must use the comments section to react to videos to pay doubloons to merchant cats, to fight against enemies who want to steal them, to defeat bandits who have looted their treasure. All on different accounts, so much so that no one can say they have launched “DabloonTok” except the cohesion between the algorithm of the social network and the imagination of the users.
TikTok Dabloons: A Shadow Economy
The game has captured so much the imagination of the users, that they could no longer treat the TikTok Dabloons virtual currency as a game. If at the beginning four doubloons could buy a treasure, when some users started donating too high sums, “breaking news”-style reports popped up on TikTok. Someone stood devaluing the currency, putting everyone’s savings at risk merchant cats of the social network.
Were born councils to regulate the flow of the currency. But also cells of anti-capitalist movements who want destabilize the value of the dabloons and turn the system upside down. All in three days thanks to users who are bored on social networks (also consider that the Thanksgiving holidays have begun in the United States).
All of this was born out of the very spirit of RPGs: the TikTok algorithm proposed something that users took seriously, delving into the story. But as the algorithm gives, the algorithm takes away: after three days in which everyone on the platform traded dabloons, this social economy has now disappeared. Even if there is a risk that someone will make it a cryptocurrency in a short time. But without a cat willing to sell you a magical weapon, what’s four doubloons for?