Hawaii state representative calls on game industry to self-regulate on lockboxes

With the rhetoric and discussion around video game lockboxes at a fever pitch, it has drawn the attention of at least one US congressperson who has issued a somewhat dire warning to the games industry: Police yourself or get ready for us to do it for you.

Hawaii State Representative Sean Quinlan is the latest in a string of politicians and governments taking the games industry to task over the design and mechanics of pay-for-loot lockboxes. He said that while he doesn’t want to see the government step in to regulate, he also doesn’t believe that game publishers are going to get their act together on this.

“The ideal solution would be for the game industry to stop having gambling or gambling-like mechanics in games that are marketed to kids,” Quinlan said. “I know [developers and publishers] have a fiduciary responsibility to shareholders, but I think they have a responsibility to customers too. So the ESRB could say that if a game has loot crates, it gets a 21-plus rating. I wouldn’t want it to be a federal law. I think that could be a very slippery slope.”

Self-regulation could come from a new “crisis coalition” of industry veterans, although countries like Australia, France, and Belgium are turning up the heat on such practices.

Source: Gamasutra
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61 Comments on "Hawaii state representative calls on game industry to self-regulate on lockboxes"

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roo woods

Talk about putting the shark in charge of the swimming pool .

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GiantsBane

While I abhor lockboxes, I abhor arbitrary government mandated regulations even more. Get the hell back to your island hawaii, neither the government nor the game industry needs to “police” lockbox practices, if players think they’re unfair, there’s a simple solution.

Don’t buy them.

Presto, problem solved.

Of course people always need something arbitrary to bitch about it seems, so why not make believe loot in an imaginary virtual world?

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roo woods

It seems you are assuming like yourself all gamers are adults but they are not .Many of these games have 15 and 12 pegi ratings and that means they are aimed at minors . In such games I don’t think it is right that children should be exposed to a practice that constitutes gambling .

I don’t like lockboxes but if a game company wants to put them in then they should slap a pegi 18 rating on the box .

That is why I think you have run your mouth off without thinking things through .

Or maybe you are not capable of thinking things through .

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Ket Viliano

Knock off the ad hom attacks. That was totally uncalled for.

Given how well the government actually functions, I do think it is both prudent and wise to demand the cessation of any further regulations until the agencies we do have can get their act together.

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Loyal Patron
Armsbend

You are misusing the word arbitrary.
“based on random choice or personal whim, rather than any reason or system.”

That doesn’t apply to this at all. Lockboxes are gambling and games market heavily to minors. Neither of those goes against reason. Not doing anything would be more arbitrary than doing something.

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Kickstarter Donor
Scratches

Are you stoned or just…?

Lockboxes are a problem because they’re addictive, just like gambling is, as they activate the same pleasure emitters/receptors in human brains as gambling does.

Presto, problem not solved; because Libertarianism to the degree that you’re advocating here is literally just a fantasy, and it always has been. Do you also tell smokers, “Just stop buying cigarettes if they’re so bad for you,” or victims of sexual assault, “Just stop wearing X types of clothes”? Because the mental gymnastics required to arrive at each of those examples, just like with the lockboxes, is exactly the same….

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Ket Viliano

Ad hom, knock it off.

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Utakata

“Are you stoned or just…?”

Nah. Just this idea a some folks hold that only private industry should be allow to “govern” only. What horrifying dystopic world that would be…but hey, I never said it was a rational line of thought by any stretch of the imagination. Just some folks believe that…like those who believe the world is flat type of thing. /sigh

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Ket Viliano

Have you ever had to deal with the government? Between the corruption and the incompetence, there is a solid and well reasoned argument for ending most regulation and agencies.

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Utakata

Anecdotal reasoning is not a solid and/or well “reasoned” argument for ending anything, lol.

However, corruption and incompetence does not reside in government and it’s agencies only. It’s inbred where ever there is a power structures involved. That includes private industries. And the reasoning why regulations, accountability and respective agencies are needed in the first place.

…and the Earth is also spherical. Just saying.

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Ket Viliano

Anecdotes in mass becomes statistics. In every case one examines, one must start with a defacto anecdote, and compile data consistently, if one wishes to create useful data. I do think this is quite obvious, but clearly it needs stating.

As far as incompetence goes, sure that is found everywhere, but it is only when combined with power that it becomes obvious and problematic. The problem being, that incompetent and corrupt *government* bureaucrats are no solution for incompetent and corrupt *corporate* bureaucrats.

Sure, we need regulations, rules by which to operate, but, as the ancient question goes, who watches the watchman?

PS: What does any of this have to do with the shape of the earth?

K38FishTacos
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K38FishTacos

self-regulation = pretense/just another hoop to jump through so we can do what we were doing before

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Sorenthaz

Lol, telling them to self regulate isn’t going to do anything.

PurpleCopper
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PurpleCopper

Remember when booster pack cards were a thing?

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Jeffery Witman

They at least held the number of cards advertised when you bought them. The way some lock boxes are run you get basically nothing a large percent of the time. It’s more akin to slot machines than booster packs a lot of the time. And that’s the big problem. There’s no guarantee of which system you’re getting. Developers are free to lie, hide the mechanics behind the RNG, rig them to be more or less advantageous for whoever they want, etc. There’s no regulation of them, no oversight, and when you’re talking about allowing kids to do this it gets to the level of criminality. Many adults have trouble with gambling of this sort despite having the full advantage of a brain that’s finished developing. Kids don’t even have that, and we’ve already seen how grossly some mobile apps and games will allow kids to rack up thousands of dollars in charges in a few hours or days. Making sure they aren’t being blatantly taken advantage of is literally the least that we can do as a society.

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MesaSage

Our state lottery authority just added signs to all lottery vending machines “No one under 18 allowed to purchase”.

See, gubmints are experts in self policing.

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Kickstarter Donor
Tandor

Unfortunately a game’s age rating has little to do with the age of the people who play it. Few of the games with lockboxes are “aimed at kids”.

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Sally Bowls

Tangentially related in today’s news:

1) Gamers with lootboxes are not the only foolishness.
https://news.slashdot.org/story/17/12/04/1638204/people-have-spent-over-1m-buying-virtual-cats-on-the-ethereum-blockchain

2) IMO, YMMV, Facebook messenger designed for under 13 YO children worries me more than them getting lootboxes.

https://tech.slashdot.org/story/17/12/04/1543211/facebook-launches-new-messenger-app-for-young-kids—-what-could-possibly-go-wrong

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rafael12104

Err. This like getting my fave ice cream Sundae and then getting punched in the gut the second I put a spoonful in my mouth.

You see, I am for self regulation. I think the industry, for the greater good of themselves, should do this.

BUT, the way the congressman puts this, it is clear that he is interested in his greater good and what that may mean in terms of future contributions by the video game lobby.

Sheezus… nope. Nope. Nope. The way you do this, congressman, is first you draft the legislation. Make it public. And then send EA and the rest of the untouchables a copy. At that point make them respond with HOW they are going to self regulate and then decided how to proceed.

That is, if you are really interested, congressman, in ensuring something is done. But, that midterm is coming up, isn’t it.

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Sally Bowls

There are no congressman involved in this. The opinions of one member of the bluest (highest % Clinton state in ’16) state’s state legislature is of little direct import, especially towards nationwide elections. Nothing is going to come of this directly and EA and the legislator know this.

IMO, the big significance that EA and Gaming companies should take notice of that this is not some fringe issue where youtube shockjocks are trying to earn more money by getting more views by pandering to a hot issue; this has gone mainstream. It should be a huge wake-up call.

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rafael12104

Hmm. I misread the article. When congressperson was mentioned, I assumed it meant a member of the US House of Reps.

Less teeth coming from a state legislature for sure. Nevertheless, if it adds visibility, I’m good with it.

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Loyal Patron
Armsbend

The good thing – he is an unknown. It doesn’t live and die with this guy.

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Dug From The Earth

A politician saying that a money making corporation isnt going to go out of their way to limit how they make money….

This one of those “Takes one to know one” sorta things?