British Parliament Investigates Ties Between Video Games and Gambling
A committee established by the House of Commons has recently revealed its plans to analyze the popularity of addictive and immersive media and technologies. This has been done to protect the general public from addiction and gamification. The committee named DCMS or Digital, Culture, Media and Sports committee has recently completed its years of investigation into fake news along with the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Two of the most worrying gambling trends that have been noticed in the world of video games are microtransactions and loot boxes. Loot boxes are randomized rewards that are awarded to players upon a payment. Players cannot select their reward; a random reward is received after the payment. This trend is similar to a lot of gambling practices and is a cause of worry in the world of video games. Added to this, a lot of video games offer microtransactions as a means of experiencing all the features of the game. This is so even after paying the complete price of the game upon purchase.
Such connections between the video game industry and gambling are the central focus of this committee’s investigation. The main question posed by the committee is- “What are the effects of in-game spending, especially on children, and does it need stronger monitoring or regulation?” A lot of extremely popular games such as FIFA by EA, Overwatch by Blizzard, and Call of Duty by Activision have been severely criticized for their practice of loot boxes and microtransactions. For example, school children who play FIFA have been known to spend almost £500 on the game, at an average of £15 per week on such pseudo-gambling mechanisms. Addiction and compulsive behavior are often exploited in a number of games which are designed to be addictive in nature.
The committee chairman Damian Collins has said that the committee wishes to establish clear guidelines and regulations that would safeguard individuals from the negative effects and unhealthy addiction that is present in this industry. The aim of the committee is to maintain Britain’s position as a leader in the digital entertainment industry and understand the effects of such immersive media and new technologies on society. The committee has already faced a lot of complains regarding the addictive or pseudo-gambling nature of online worlds in videogames, and they are determined to explore the issue further and set a policy that would ensure the safety of the public.