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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.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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58 comments
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mirv 22 October 2019 at 6:03 pm UTC
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Tets
Liam Dawe
fagnerln
Eike
fagnerlnAh, and talking about drugs, I bet that mostly of you in the comments support the "free drugs" movement. "People are free to use any drug they want, because they 'own' yourselves, but gambling, nah, please government, save them", ironic

Ironically, you pointed at the difference between adults and kids yourself in the very same posting...

The adult is responsible for the children, not the government, is that hard to get?

I known a boy that used their father's credit card, ONCE. The father explained to him that this is a bad thing. Maybe if the father spent some time with the kid, maybe this didn't happened the first time.
You are so incredibly naive and narrow minded, I'm genuinely amazed.

I've seen first-hand how gambling can ruin an adult's life, just as much as a child.

So, because some are irresponsible, we all need to be supervised? Sorry, no. I like my freedom (even to do stupid things). It's my life and my money. And I don't even like games with microtransactions, loot boxes, ...
And yeah, government is like mafia. Probably worse, mafia takes your money and then leaves you alone (mostly). Government takes your money and with it tells you what you can (and can't!) do, how to behave, what to do with your life... I'm a human, not an ant or Chinese. I grew up in socialism and the West is going that way right now with all this bullshit. Sad.
Sorry for that, I'll try to refrain from politics, it's a website about games.

Well, to be fair, this isn't about a government telling you that you can't spend money on games as you'd like. It's more about a government telling companies that what they're doing with lootboxes is gambling. Age restrictions and availability of information to the user is what is being recommended - you know, allowing the user to be _truthfully_ informed.

As far as I can see it, they're not saying gambling isn't permitted. It's just calling lootboxes for what they are: gambling, and having it regulated as such.
LibertyPaulM 22 October 2019 at 6:59 pm UTC
Lot of shite being talked.

As far as I am concerned, these randomised loot boxes actually are gambling; and gambling brings with it negative externalities for society and a legitimate function of government is to deal with negative externalities. This can be done through taxation or regulation. Taxation wouldn't work in this case so regulation it is.
Luke_Nukem 22 October 2019 at 7:02 pm UTC
Eike
Liam DaweI attempted to watch some live the other day, the UK Speaker is hilarious. I'm pretty sure at this point uuurderrr is just a tic, he seemed to say it every few words

I watched a bit of it on Saturday.
I wasn't sure every "uuurderrr" was really neeeded either.
You do have some interesting traditions for sure. ;)

QuoteThe year is 2137. According to tradition, the British Prime Minister heads to Brussels to ask the EU for an extension to Brexit. No one knows where this strange custom originates from, but each year it attracts 1000’s of tourists to the city.

No idea where the origin of that tweet is now. Somewhat ironic.
denyasis 23 October 2019 at 9:32 am UTC
Very interesting.

As anyone with parenting experience knows, it's impossible to monitor thier child 24x7 and when trying to do that was a fad some 20 years ago (helicopter parenting anyone?), I recall it didn't work out very well in generating emotionally resilient adults.

I'd expect it's even harder when it comes to online gaining and social media. Trying to keep up with the latest fad or app or game can be pretty difficult.

Fun aside, I was taking to a fellow patent with a teenage child. The newest communication/social media trend for that age in our area? Google docs. Everyone had an account in the school. Share the doc with your group and everyone types in it in real time.

So, GOL parents... What's your experience been with dealing with your child's online habits?



I'll share mine:

My family was watching tv while I was at work. We use a roku for our tv. My wife went to use the rest room while the kids were finishing their show. All of a sudden she gets an email thanking her for her online purchase of a Harry Potter movie.

Turns out our kindergartener opened the Amazon Prime app and saw the movie and decided to watch it cause "I saw a toy like that at the site and it looked cool"

We had parental controls set on the device, but apparently an in-app purchase had a separate control (if one even exists) in the app itself.

Atleast they picked a decent movie.

Any good stories from you guys?


Last edited by denyasis on 23 October 2019 at 9:39 am UTC
Scattershot 23 October 2019 at 11:44 am UTC
Kiba
fagnerlnHERE WE GO AGAIN...
We don't need the government controlling even more our lives, the parents should moderate what their children are using.
Then fight for police and army to be disarmed and fired.

Bit of a difference there. The police and army don't control us. The police are simply the enforcers of the law and the army don't have any ability to control us, except when drafted to help the police or if martial law is declared.


What controls us is the law, and what the law should do is govern our interactions with each other such that we are unable to infringe on the liberty of others. It is there to protect us from other people. What it should not be, but is increasingly becoming, is something to protect us from ourselves (with the obvious exception of the mentally incapable, which includes children).

With regard to gambling, or any addictive activity, the law should not be banning adults from engaging in it. However, it should regulate providers to ensure that they are not taking advantage of their clients. For example, online bookies are required perform due diligence when taking on new clients. They are required to investigate unusual financial behaviour or unusually large stake amounts. They are required to allow clients to self-exclude and to enforce the exclusion for the time the client originally specified. And, of course, children are not allowed to engage in gambling as they are not deemed competent.
Scattershot 23 October 2019 at 11:48 am UTC
denyasisMy family was watching tv while I was at work. We use a roku for our tv. My wife went to use the rest room while the kids were finishing their show. All of a sudden she gets an email thanking her for her online purchase of a Harry Potter movie.

Turns out our kindergartener opened the Amazon Prime app and saw the movie and decided to watch it cause "I saw a toy like that at the site and it looked cool"

Did you have your credit card stored in the device? This is a common mistake on Android/iOS devices given to children. If they want to purchase things then they should have to bring the device to you for you to enter your card details.

Sure, on a shared device like a Roku, it makes it more awkward for the adults in the house to purchase stuff but it's definitely worth it. I guess the scope for damage on a Roku is relatively limited but in-app purchases on mobile devices can run up huge charges very quickly.


Last edited by Scattershot on 23 October 2019 at 11:48 am UTC
Cyba.Cowboy 23 October 2019 at 12:07 pm UTC
fagnerlnHERE WE GO AGAIN...

We don't need the government controlling even more our lives, the parents should moderate what their children are using.

Like it or not, "loot boxes" are a form of gambling and whilst the game industry has not been "ruined" because of them, "loot boxes" have certainly done a lot of damage to the industry (as have "freemium" games - but that's another discussion)... I agree that having the Government take control is not necessarily the best approach, but if it's going to reduce the number of "loot boxes" used in games, then the end absolutely justifies the means.

Of course, nothing has actually happened yet and nothing may even happen - if my understanding of this article is correct, the "Children's Commissioner" has only made a recommendation, which may or may not see results; given everything going on in Britain at the moment, I don't see this being a priority.
Nanobang 23 October 2019 at 12:35 pm UTC
Good on you, Britain!

As they're a commercial game of chance, loot boxes are, in fact, gambling.

Whether or not a society decides that children should or shouldn't be allowed to engage in this form of gambling is a corollary, but otherwise separate, issue, and is up to the society in question. Personally, I'm opposed to loot boxes in video games, but inasmuch as they are allowed to be there, then let those games be subject to the same laws governing gambling.

I think that the use of loot boxes in video games is wholly predatory in nature. seeking as it does to profit by taking advantage of the naive and unformed minds of children. At the very least, games which include loot boxes should be subject to the same laws that regulate other commercial gambling in a society.

But there's really no practical debate here. Loot boxes are gambling. They're just a very new form of gambling and society is still reacting to them. But we are reacting, and as we have decided to regulate other forms of gambling, so too we'll regulate loot boxes. Right now we're just going through the process.


Last edited by Nanobang on 23 October 2019 at 12:39 pm UTC
Arehandoro 23 October 2019 at 12:53 pm UTC
Tets
Liam Dawe
fagnerln
Eike
fagnerlnAh, and talking about drugs, I bet that mostly of you in the comments support the "free drugs" movement. "People are free to use any drug they want, because they 'own' yourselves, but gambling, nah, please government, save them", ironic

Ironically, you pointed at the difference between adults and kids yourself in the very same posting...

The adult is responsible for the children, not the government, is that hard to get?

I known a boy that used their father's credit card, ONCE. The father explained to him that this is a bad thing. Maybe if the father spent some time with the kid, maybe this didn't happened the first time.
You are so incredibly naive and narrow minded, I'm genuinely amazed.

I've seen first-hand how gambling can ruin an adult's life, just as much as a child.

So, because some are irresponsible, we all need to be supervised? Sorry, no. I like my freedom (even to do stupid things). It's my life and my money. And I don't even like games with microtransactions, loot boxes, ...
And yeah, government is like mafia. Probably worse, mafia takes your money and then leaves you alone (mostly). Government takes your money and with it tells you what you can (and can't!) do, how to behave, what to do with your life... I'm a human, not an ant or Chinese. I grew up in socialism and the West is going that way right now with all this bullshit. Sad.
Sorry for that, I'll try to refrain from politics, it's a website about games.

I can't believe how in one comment someone can show so much ignorance and racism. Reported, by the way.
namiko 23 October 2019 at 4:31 pm UTC
Arehandoro
Tetsgovernment is like mafia. Probably worse, mafia takes your money and then leaves you alone (mostly). Government takes your money and with it tells you what you can (and can't!) do, how to behave, what to do with your life... I'm a human, not an ant or Chinese.
I can't believe how in one comment someone can show so much ignorance and racism. Reported, by the way.
*facepalm* Can someone mention a well-known criminal society and implicate a (for all intents and purposes) totalitarian country and not be castigated for saying that their systems are not good and remind him of how corrupted some governments or organizations go?

All italians are not affiliated with the mafia. All chinese citizens are not their government.

*phew* That aside, since this dumpster fire's been fanned nicely by Liam (this isn't Twitter, so it provides much less benefit for you to insult GoL commenters whose positions you dislike on GoL), I'll mention a new concern about this this law, particularly this section:

* Games distributed online should get a legally enforceable age-rating system like physical games

Now, it's been a long time since I last bought a physical game, but so far as I know, as long as a parent is with a child/teen at the time of purchase, the age-rating systems don't matter, as it's a matter of parental override on the rules. It works that way for games, and works that way for movies. (At least when someone at the cash register/ticket counter gives a crap about the law more than making money, it varies.)

If the UK government wants ID to be legally enforceable in the digital space, would it limit kids from playing games their parents may have no problems with? Is the same kind of in-person parental override even possible? In addition, it's the same thing as the "porn license" idea, it's a way of tracking what UK citizens are doing online. Even if the cause is decent (lootboxes are probably addictive, and it's also too easy to 'borrow' a parent's credit card number and security code), the way it could be implemented sounds disturbing.

Do we want anybody other than Steam or people looking at our public profile to be know what games we're playing and when? If they mandate the ID for kids, who can say if it won't spread to adults as well, just to make game distributors cover their asses further? Would the GDPR-like fallback rules when Brexit may (may not?) happen also apply to government children's ID data collection?

If we're going to be keeping companies cleaner, are such heavy-handed measures really necessary in the pursuit of fewer people getting ripped off by publishers and devs? If the regulation were focused on the companies, they could implement government-mandated restrictions on themselves regardless of age (no age limit on addiction, right?). But no, it's easier for citizens to be forced to act instead of making businesses unhappy with direct regulation. Laissez-faire capitalism doesn't work, *some* regulation should be in place. Then again, I'd be reluctant to regulate any entity that has millions in potential taxes for my country and could shuffle the funds off to a tax haven at a moments' notice.

Not an easy thing for government to do, no matter how you look at it. But making your (relatively) poorer citizens do the work is an easier move that will feel good in the short term, no doubt. Most of the ideas put forth are probably impossible without a central tracking system in which data may be completely out of the hands of the citizens to control.

Yeah, I know, Five Eyes countries do this all the time between one another, no surprise, but should we be encouraging that kind of tacitly accepted surveillance towards the behaviour of our more vulnerable children?


Last edited by namiko on 23 October 2019 at 4:32 pm UTC
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