Here could be the start of another nail in the coffin for loot boxes, as the Children's Commissioner in England has put out a new report after a little study was done.
Never heard of the Children's Commissioner? It's a public independent body in England that is responsible for promoting and protecting the rights of children (read more here). The current head is Anne Longfield, who today released a pretty damning report on the state of how certain games and companies really attempt to suck money out of people at every opportunity.
I won't quote all of it to spare you some of the things we all already know but it's good to see such a thing being done over here. It's needed, it has been for a long time now. This particular study had them speak to children between 10 to 16 about their gaming habits, what they liked and disliked and so on. Games included that were talked about include Fortnite, Call of Duty, FIFA, Roblox and more which do have some pretty aggressive advertising of the in-game items and subscriptions.
Not all of it is terrible in the report though, thankfully Longfield does carefully mention how playing games can help people to socialise, learn new skills and have fun. All of this applies to adults, just as much as it does to children both the pros and cons of it all.
The result of the study is where it gets interesting. The Commissioner has called for multiple things to be changed, a few of which I will summarise below:
- A place to track historic spending in games
- A maximum daily spending limit in the games as well
- Calls on the UK government to adjust the Gambling Act to regulate loot boxes as gambling
- Calls on the UK government to have a wider review into the definition of gambling in the Gambling Act, due to all the new forms of monetization appearing in games
- Games distributed online should get a legally enforceable age-rating system like physical games
- A requirement of additional warnings for games which have in-game transactions
This bit especially caught my attention:
The amount of money spent, and the lack of a guaranteed reward meant children often feel like their money is wasted. In some cases, they lose control of their spending and attempt to ‘chase losses’ by spending more.
That sure as hell sounds like gambling to me…
You can find the full report here.
Quoting: NezchanIt's worth noting that the majority of people are not immune to psychological pressure and manipulation, even if they think they are. It's possible that some people who don't respond to social cues and the like are not vulnerable, but the rest of us are. You can tell yourself that you're immune to marketing all you like, but you're not. Neither am I. If it was only the very vulnerable (prone to addition, children, etc.) who are affected by this stuff, predatory practices in games like Fortnite or Candy Crush wouldn't be as widespread a problem as they are.
There's a word for people who think they can't be cheated: marks.
For example, one could easily argue that the people who profess themselves as "not affected by marketing and manipulation", bemoan the need for "freedom" for companies to do as they like, and that it's people's own fault that they fall prey to manipulation tactics, are, in fact, the ones that have been manipulated the most; manipulated into siding with unscrupulous entities whose sole purpose is to squeeze as much profit out of you, other people and the world as they possibly can, in the shortest time possible, consequences be damned.
Last edited by Appelsin on 24 October 2019 at 3:28 pm UTC
Quoting: NezchanThere's a word for people who think they can't be cheated: marks.They say if you look around a poker table and can't spot the chump, it's you.
Quoting: NezchanIt's worth noting that the majority of people are not immune to psychological pressure and manipulation, even if they think they are.
Ofc. We all have our moments of weakness. I have at least. For instance I remember years ago once, in a 2 weeks long business trip abroad, during the week end in an hotel room in the middle of nowhere, far from friends and my girlfriend, tired from a week of long hours, bored and lonely... I bought a hearthstone pack bundle. Normally I wouldn't but that time I did because I was weak and I thought why not threat me some instant gratification.
But the difference is that for me it ended up there. Literally. A moment of weakness that resulted in a negligible financial loss and some new "antibodies" released in my system thanks to the experience. For other people though that would have been the beginning of an addiction they could never recover from without help.
It's not just wrong that videogame publishers business today is to disseminate traps around waiting for the inevitable moment of weakness of a helpless whale out there so they can harpoon it and slowly suck all the life out of it. It's sad. Because they are not whales, they are people.
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