UK parliament committee will investigate addictive tech, lootboxes, and harmful gamification

    
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Given that UK researchers this year found a “relationship between problem gambling and the use of loot boxes” as well as determined that problem gambling among underage kids is on the rise, it’s no surprise at all that the government is aiming to do something about it.

As The Guardian reports, the House of Commons committee responsible for digital, culture, media and sport (DCMS) is poised to run an inquiry on the “immersive and addictive technologies,” which seems to include everything from addictive mechanics and gaming addiction to lockboxes/lootboxes and harmful gamification in general.

MOP readers in the US will recall that the FTC agreed, under pressure from senators, to commit to an investigation on the effects and impacts of lootboxes specifically. “Gaming disorder,” you’ll remember, also became a thing this year.

Here’s a quick look at our lootbox coverage so far this year:

Source: The Guardian. Thanks, Cotic!
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Arktouros

People are going to cheer the regulation of lockboxes only to be greeted with the nightmare that their games that use identical methods and design will be equally regulated.

April-Rain
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April-Rain

Being a UK resident I dont expect the laws that gamers like me would like to see, our MP’s tend to favour companies and money over anything else and on the quiet its pretty corrupt, only if they is a massive public out cry will they be real change but if not it will be classed as not gambling and left to self regulation which keeps the money coming in to those large back pocket’s our MP’s tend to have.

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BalsBigBrother

Yeah my countries government is currently in the process of blindly leaping off a cliff called Brexit so I wouldn’t hold your breath on anything happening soon or any sort of competence with the investigation.

/sigh :(

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Schmidt.Capela

Well, at least the ECJ has ruled that the UK can unilaterally revoke Clause 50 (and, thus, Brexit), meaning that undoing it all is now a potential option if no agreement on how to exit the EU can be reached and the country seems to be heading to a no-deal Brexit.

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Armsbend

I have no doubt Britannia is looking at the reaction of their neighboring populace across the Thames to the gas tax hike as a recourse of getting aggressive with Brexit. Tensions seem to be high on the continent.

Andy McAdams
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Andy McAdams

meh, we can probably just say “tensions seem to be high all around the world.”

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NeoWolf

Not likely that anything will happen soon on either the Brexit or Gaming front frankly, not with our government lol

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Utakata

I thought Ms. May sorta put the breaks on that your yesterday. Now it sits teetering on the precipitous of said cliff awaiting for a butterfly to land on the wrong end, sending it toppling down the bottomless chasm. /sigh

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MassivelyMacD

Well, I am german, but the first company I worked for was an english company. Had lots of coworkers from all over the british isles, had a ton of fun, learned a lot, made a lot of trustworthy friends. I think I can safely say that after my home town I know London second best of all cities on this planet.

I will come and visit the UK even after Brexit. The hospitality I have experienced over there is extraordinary and I from my part am not willing to let you down just because of a strange and doubtable decision.

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Vincent Clark

First and foremost we need to hold the developers/company responsible. There are enough games out there that prove that you can sustain/grow a healthy and profitable gaming population by not resorting to loot-boxes and other quick cash-grab schemes. But too many companies think short term and couldn’t care less about sustained customer loyalty and trust.

But this is also the players’ fault. We get addicted to game X. We loathe the idea of loot-boxes, but again…we are addicted to game X. So we allow it, we turn a blind eye, we even go so far as to defend it (but the game “needs” loot-boxes to survive, etc. etc.)

When it comes to our time and money, we should demand more. We should expect more.

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Tandor

“Games such as Fifa, Overwatch and Call of Duty have been criticised for the practice, which has led to reports of primary school-age children spending almost £500 on Fifa players and getting into the habit of spending £15 a week on pseudo-gambling.”

That’s down to parents to control, not Governments.

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agemyth 😩

I don’t claim to know the laws in the UK, but I would assume there is an age restriction on gambling. If these “pseudo-gambling” mechanics are found to be close enough to their definition of gambling and are in games marketed at children or the rating equivalent of “all ages” is it not to be expected that the government should at least expect PEGI to give those games a 18+ rating (or whatever the age would be there)?

I’m trying not to lean one way or the other for this post, but I would guess to be consistent on the laws against gambling something would need to change.

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Armsbend

When the parents stop working out, which they have not been working out globally, it when it is time for governments to step in.

For an easy example, US children are morbidly obese when they used to not be as morbidly obese only two decades ago. Leaving it to parents – who have not the mental or financial means to solve the issue – means government needs to step in.

Being a parent in no way qualifies you to be good at anything. Most parents are fools that should have been thrown to die in a pit full of skeletons at their own births.

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Schmidt.Capela

This is an interesting discussion, really. Do you consider the authority of parents over their children to be close to absolute, to the extent parents are free to decide everything about their children — which can lead to parents accidentally ruining the lives of their children — or should the government intervene to prevent some of the potential negative results?

This, BTW, is why in most of the world homeschooling isn’t allowed. The right of the child to have social contact with other kids their age and a good education is seen as more important than the parental authority.

And also:

That’s down to parents to control, not Governments.

This argument can be used to remove the regulations that prevent kids from purchasing a number of items and services that are legal for an adult to purchase. Things such as alcoholic beverages, tobacco, pornographic material, etc. After all, isn’t it down to parents to properly educate their children so they stay away from anything that is improper for them?

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Armsbend

Society has to take care of cretins raised by cretins – so we should absolutely have a say in how people are raised – so they in turn don’t become a larger burden.

the peasant class having this sense of entitlement in all things is an extremely new phenomena. To think this unalienable right can’t disappear if abused long enough just isn’t true. Better to let society govern in small steps – then go forward towards the absolutes of the past.

yes I said peasant class. Coming from Irish immigration – thusly being from peasants myself – gives me the right to know who I am.

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Bruno Brito

Eh, considering we sell our workforce for next to nothing, while consuming dangerous products in a ephemeral life, while also entertaining ourselves with more crappy products coming from lazy companies ( specially for us, MMO players ), the world Peasant fits like a glove.

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Bruno Brito

Being a parent in no way qualifies you to be good at anything. Most parents are fools that should have been thrown to die in a pit full of skeletons at their own births.

Being a by-product of a failed family, i can say that this assessment is true in it’s ideals, but saying they should die is a bit too much.

I have not much love for my father, but i can’t blame him for not having a father either. Of course he’s an adult and he had a responsability with me that he failed miserably, but i can at least understand why.

So, i would say that most parents are indeed fools and they shouldn’t ever be parents. And there’s a extremely damaging culture that thank god is dying down a bit, that is pretending that the miracle of birth and whatever is the best goddamn experience someone can have.

And don’t even get me started on the “you made the child, now you raise it as a punishment” front. Kids shouldn’t ever be a fucking punishment. They deserve better than parents that see them as a mistake.

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Ittybumpkin

Maybe we should let parents decide if their kids can smoke as well. Bring back Joe Camel to advertise to them. Might as well let them smoke if we are going to let them gamble right?

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Mikka Hansen

That’s down to parents to control, not Governments.

then so are slot machines, poker, BJ, sport bets …may aswell give away free candy at casinos

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agemyth 😩

…the House of Commons committee responsible for digital, culture, media and sport (DCMS) is poised to run an inquiry on the “immersive and addictive technologies,” which seems to include everything from addictive mechanics and gaming addiction to lockboxes/lootboxes and harmful gamification in general.

Welp, if they go after anything in games that is “immersive and addictive” they might as well just investigate the whole concept of entertainment itself.

Andy McAdams
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Andy McAdams

There’s nothing about this that’s a surprise to me. The US will follow suit soon enough–and for all my pontificating about the evils of gamblingboxes (which many and varied), I think it’s ultimately us, the gamers, who will be hurt by this most. Not because we are short-sighted and did this to ourselves, but rather because video game companies aren’t going to be footing for the bill their greed — we will.

That’s the part that bothers me. EA is going to huff and puff and whine about how this is totes unfair to them. Then they’ll pass whatever losses the have from not being able to use lootboxes on to players and blame legislators for it. At no point in this process is Bobby Kotick going to stop and say, “No, you know what? We created this problem with our rampant greed, we should pay for the consequences of our actions.”

What they’ll do is pass the cost on to gamers to maintain or increase profits, and then blame legislators on the fact that they just *had* to pass all that cost onto gamers.

Legislation is what we need because this is what it looks like when greed runs rampant. But it’s not gonna be pretty. Ultimately gamers (consumers really) are the one’s holding the short stick at the end of the night :-\

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Ashfyn Ninegold

Of course. I think it’s important to point out that gambling is generally the realm of criminal organizations, which is one of the reasons we have gambling laws (the other being the same reason we have drinking laws, morality and social well-being).

As more and more games are under the control of investor corporations, who are in turn owned by nameless investors and stockholders, many of whom are looking for a place to park their money after having laundered it through real estate, gaming with its multi-billion dollar profits tag is simply too big an enterprise to be ignored by corrupt global criminal organizations.

cmdr_cotic
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cmdr_cotic

Hopefully Damian Collins is as bullish about this as he was with the Facebook info he recently released.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

EA, you sorry, bro?

EA’s over reach is beginning to look like John Wick’s car, the MacGuffin that unleashed mayhem on thieves.

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rafael12104

Can anything else be done, while Brexit is unresolved? I’m asking because from the news I’m reading, it is the only thing on the agenda for Parliment.

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silverlock

This might make for a good smoke screen as everyone blames everyone else for the flaming wreck that the no deal Brexit is going to be.

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Schmidt.Capela

Now that the ECJ has ruled that the UK can unilaterally revoke article 50 I wonder if it’s possible to pass some kind of law or motion that turns the default, in case no agreement on an exit plan can be reached, into undoing Brexit rather than crashing out.