Hawaii state rep Chris Lee urges gamers to contact their local governments about lockboxes

Say you were a legislator concerned about the lootbox/lockbox gambling issues in gaming. How would you actually go about drafting a law that targets predatory monetization without, as some people fear, sliding down a slippery slope into unfettered regulation so that suddenly all video games are illegal but Pong?

Hawaii State Representative Chris Lee, whom you’ll remember from his Reddit post and video on the subject a few weeks ago, has a new video out explaining just that, as his goal and that of other representatives in other states is to craft language that is tailored specifically to blocking the sale of gambleboxes to people under 21 (the legal age for gambling in the US). It’s clear from the video that Lee and the attorneys working on the potential bill actually understand the gacha mechanics and nastier algorithmic targeting tactics that some game studios employ.

“We don’t need to change the laws in every state,” he notes. “We just need to keep the conversation going, to keep pressure up, and ultimately get enough attention to this issue so that maybe the laws in a couple states change – but that’s enough to compel the industry to build games that meet those laws, to stop exploiting folks who might have gambling addictions and others, and actually create better games.”

Lee further requests that citizens write to the representatives of their own local governments, offering a sample letter for copypasta for those so inclined.

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34 Comments on "Hawaii state rep Chris Lee urges gamers to contact their local governments about lockboxes"

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Jeffery Witman

There needs to be accountability if there continues to be gamble boxes in games. At a bare minimum there needs to be some assurance that these boxes are fair and equal instead of targeted for maximum return with no regard for the consumer.

If a publisher says there are 12 items available in a limited time lock box, and only 10 are ever seen by players, then that’s fraud plain and simple. Players need to know what kind of odds they’re dealing with, and that those odds don’t change based on your transaction history or demographic profile.

Right now there’s no guarantee of anything, no information given to players to make informed decisions with, and no consequences for committing fraud. It’s a free for all with publishers pushing the limits to get as many players hooked on the “just one more box” addiction. It’s slot machines without any of the guaranteed payout.

I’m fine with games using them as a revenue source if they want. I just want them to be playing by the same rules as casinos and racetracks that do the same thing so that players aren’t being unfairly duped while game publishers empty their wallets. Casinos pull in millions with far worse graphics and no story. I’m sure the legitimate publishers won’t have a problem with cash flow just because they’re forced to play fair. And, honestly, if they do have a problem with it, they deserve to shut down.

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Mr_Planthead

Sorry, I’ll take f2p and lockboxes over paying a sub for one game any day

Reader
Jdawg Playsgames

I don’t have a dog in this hunt…but I will say nothing will happen quickly there will be lobbying, appeals, and many tax payer dollars before anything happens.

It could be up to five or ten years before anything substantial happens, I just wouldn’t hold my breath

Reader
Chosenxeno .

I like lockboxes:( Without them the playing field will be leveled. I’ll have to rely on skill instead of my wallet:(

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rafael12104

Letter sent to my congressperson and both my Senators. You know you can call them too.

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Orenj

How many of the companies are doing this just to be able to compensate their workers fairly without charging a sub, vs. feeding the sucking parasite that is Wall Street?

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Kickstarter Donor
Scratches

Zero, guaranteed. Employees and Contractors (e.g., voice actors) are being paid long before the game even sees the light of beta, and no one’s getting paid on the back-end based on how well the finished product does, like in other entertainment industries, primarily because of the strategies publishers use to finance developers. (This was actually one of the big contentions that caused a strike a couple years ago, iirc.)

Things can, come quarterly analysis time, be twisted to look as though gacha boxes are feeding employees on balance sheets, but that money is never going directly from hand to mouth for developers; the money from all purchases, in-game or out, always goes to the publisher.

The waters get a little muddier when talking about MMOs considering the constant, post-release, revolving development cycles, but everything still has a price tag… Players either pay for a sub, pay for expansion packs, pay for (overpriced?) items or services in an in-game shop, or sometimes all of the above.
The point here is that even those that publish MMOs have survived and profited just fine before gacha boxes took over, and the overall gaming market has done nothing but grow since it came back in the ’80s (it’s now larger than both the movie and music industries, combined (and doubled)), so anyone trying to say “We need these to survive,” is, to put it nicely, pulling way more than just your leg….

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Kickstarter Donor
zeko_rena

Not EA that is for sure.

Reader
Patreon Donor
Schlag Sweetleaf

.

Aloha ʻoe, aloha ʻoe.jpg
Reader
Utakata

You certainly ham those gifs up, Mr. Schlag! <3

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rafael12104

And, the box fits in there perfectly too!

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Patreon Donor
Schlag Sweetleaf

here’s the source

luau pig.jpeg
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rafael12104

Time for a luau!

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Melissa McDonald

ye gods that made my mouth water. roasted pork. pineapple. soy sauce. some ginger. I think I just made a noise kinda like Homer Simpson there. :D

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Danny Smith

The strangest thing of all this is the folks who apparently don’t know shit all about videogames history screaming “FIRST MUH GAMES THEN MUH GUNS!” actually saying ‘the government never influences games”. Completely ignoring that germany bans swastikas, england bans children in violence situations connected to guns, iran bans homosexual characters. The list goes on an on. Its why England didn’t allow Parasite Eve, New Zealand didn’t allow Manhunt and multiple American states had issues with Haunting Ground and Rule of Rose to name a few examples from a very long list. Just because people dont know about it doesnt mean it hasnt been happening since custers revenge on the atari.

But go after an addicts micropay freebuy dopamine release and all of a sudden its slippery slopes to 1984 because governments NEVER mess with games apparently. Shut up, they can quit anytime they want.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Scratches

There was a time Germany didn’t even allow violence against humans in video games. If you look at the German release of Turok: Dinosaur Hunter on the N64, it’s all robots….

Reader
Fervor Bliss

People have elections to represent their views. No one voted for a game developer to decide the morals of their country.

Reader

Let the government get it’s foot in the door and next they will legislate what content can be in your games too, they will try to censor or get rid of games like GTA etc. That’s how they get their agendas passed, add some stuff to their bill that people agree on and then slip their stuff in the backdoor.
I would say keep the gov. out of my game please.

Reader
Utakata

Personally, I’ll like to keep populist nonsense out of my games…but I see the discourse here is going in the opposite direction to that. /bleh

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Peregrine Falcon

“Let the government get it’s foot in the door and next they will legislate what content can be in your games too…”

Not in the United States they won’t. SCOTUS has already ruled that video games are protected free speech in a ruling where they quoted their earlier ruling about films from the 1930’s.

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Jeffery Witman

SCOTUS also ruled that money is speech in Citizens United. So, gambling with lootboxes in a video game is just the same as having a conversation, legally.

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Slaasher

No question about it. This is the proverbial slippery slope in action. If gaming isn’t regulated to some degree here and now then the amount of exploitation will get worse and worse for players. On the other hand history tells us that the government never forgets that they are in business as well and you can be sure that any measures that they take will end up costing us as well as a gaming community. Gamer prices will go up as governments get their hands into thing.

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Mr_Planthead

I’ll take gamers voluntarily not buying things over having the government regulating things any day.

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Croquantes

There really isn’t a “slippery slope” here though, lockboxes are straight up gambling and gambling is restricted and regulated in North America. I just don’t know how they’ll enforce the regulations that already exist (in a casion they check your physical government issued ID, how do they do that online?).

Not to mention it’s unfair that the regulations currently apply to everything except video game lockboxes

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Jeremy

No. Lockboxes should just get out of games.

cryinglightning39
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cryinglightning39

I contacted the California state commission on gambling to report PWE and Cryptic about gamble boxes and never heard anything from them about it. I hope they go away forever.

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A Dad Supreme

I hope they go away forever.

The California state commission or PWE and Cryptic?

cryinglightning39
Reader
cryinglightning39

All of them. Just kidding I meant the damn gamble boxes.

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Arktouros

“Thanks for calling Congressman McDouchebag. Are you calling about the class warfare level Tax Plan Changes or the impending FCC Net Neutrality Vote that will allow monopolistic Telecomms chop up and resell you the internet?”

“Hi, no I’m calling about how this game I choose to play offers an optional lockbox option that is essentially gamb…why are you laughing?…this is a super serious issue!”

Have a little fucking perspective people.

Reader
rafael12104

Hmm. You can support more than one thing at a time you know. We are wired for that. You can argue against sexual harassment in the workplace and demand the city sanitation department not leave your trashcans all the way down the street after pick up.

This isn’t a mutually exclusive conversation. It’s not A or B. It is A and B. A is more important? B isn’t less significant because of that.

It’s about time they get to work in congress. What have they done this year? Nothing notable yet.

So, instead of the sound bites for Fox and CNN, how about doing some real work? Let’s threaten the Video Game lobby and see what happens.

Oh and I have perspective. It’s not your fucking perspective. But I believe it is just as valid.

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Arktouros

We’re also capable of recognizing when there are more important issues than others. Talking to your HR director about how you dislike the assigned parking lot arrangement instead of how your boss gropes you and feels you up each day probably isn’t the best use of your or their time. Being able to recognize that some issues are more important than others is perspective by definition.

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Melissa McDonald

You’re both right. But I do think our legislatures have bigger fish to fry than this. We can be for or against all sorts of propositions and concepts. But the lawmakers have limited time and resources and I’d just as soon they solved serious problems that directly affect our lives.

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Melissa McDonald

*applause*

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the_balance

Right? If only pixels meant as much as people.

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