Here’s why allowing the government to regulate Loot Boxes may not be the best idea

Here’s why allowing the government to regulate Loot Boxes may not be the best idea
11333328 / Pixabay

Video games have long become an integral part of the entertainment and media industry. In just the US, almost 160 million adults play video games regularly, while ¾ of every American household has at least one member that actively plays video games.

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This level of popularity generates both positive and negative responses in the public. On the one hand, active gamers find joy and satisfaction in playing their favorite games. Not only that, but the professional eSports players also make money out of it as well.

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On the other hand, though, there are many people that are afraid of the implications of active gaming.

Prior fears about video games

One of the biggest misconceptions we’ve heard recently is that video games contribute to massive killings in the US and other countries. The proponents of this opinion believe that when kids play aggressive shooters or other types of games, where the main objective is to kill a person as viciously as possible, they internalize the “joy” of the murder and turn it into a real habit.

To alleviate these “grave” effects of gaming, they came up with an idea to bring the government in. They wanted to regulate the field so that these types of games would be much more restricted and unavailable for the underaged kids.

For their amazement, various studies conducted to reveal the grave effects of gaming haven’t actually revealed anything suggesting that video games lead to the increased murder rate in the US or anywhere else.

However, to give the devil its due, these studies still found out that the community, rather than the games themselves, are very aggressive and belligerent to one another. This led to various psychological problems in young gamers. However, it shouldn’t be confused for the incentive to go out and kill other people.

Loot boxes gambling

The same issue arose with the loot boxes. A loot box is an in-game element that contains various pieces that can be used in the game itself. For example, loot boxes in PUBG contain various clothes, weapon skins, and other accessories.

The only way to get them - or the main way, at least - is to purchase them with real money. However, as the nature of the loot box dictates, gamers don’t actually know what they’ll find in one when they purchase it. So, it’s like a gamble in some sense.

Just like the previous uproar about the aggressive nature of the games, people quickly started criticizing loot boxes and the fact that it suspiciously resembles gambling. As they suggest, when kids engage in buying various loot boxes, they experience the same feeling as the one they’d get while gambling - the urge to find out what’s inside the box and quickly buy another one with hopes of getting a better object.

As the reader may already know, one of the areas that fall victim to the government’s ruthless regulatory policies is gambling. Whether we’re talking about the more developed countries like Canada or the US or the ones that slightly fall behind, the chances are, their government will already have various limitations imposed on the gambling industry.

In Canada, for instance, the gambling landscape is full of various restrictions and regulations. Canadian casinos are, in the majority of the cases, owned by the First Nations or the state-issued organizations, limiting the private enterprise drastically.

“Run to the government”

So, the first response of those opposing loot boxes was to call the government and urge it to regulate them. The main request was to stop developers from offering loot boxes in games that have younger audiences.

And their calls were heard. In Belgium, for instance, the Gambling Commission started an investigation to determine whether loot boxes are actually a form of gambling. The US also had its fair share of responses from the government. For instance, the state representative from Hawaii, Chris Lee, went as far as calling Star Wars: Battlefront 2 - a game that is full of loot boxes - an online casino that has a Star Wars theme and is trying to “lure kids into spending money”.

However, when the actual investigation was made in the UK by its gambling commission, the final conclusion was quite interesting. According to it, the only way something can be considered gambling is if people spend money to buy an asset that can, in theory, bring monetary gain.

Contrary to what many people believed, the investigation based their conclusion to the fact that there’s no financial outcome from buying a loot box: it merely gives players an in-game item that can only be used while playing, nothing else. Therefore, the commission deduced that while emotionally enticing, loot boxes cannot be considered a “licensable gambling activity.”

The government will always oppose loot boxes

But even despite this conclusion, the same commission was reluctant to admit that there’s absolutely nothing wrong if a 15-year-old kid burns through their money to buy some skins for a weapon in PUBG. At the end of it, the gambling commission still mentioned that everyone should be careful about how their kids spend their time, as well as money in these games.

As far as the parallels are concerned, it’s nothing less than an outrageous idea that by buying some loot boxes in games will turn our kids into avid casino gamers. The example we brought above should be enough to disprove such conspiracy theories.

Not only that, but they should also make us think about who we call for help. When we urge the government to regulate a certain area of our lives, we limit the freedom we have in it. And freedom is not something that should be meddled with that easily.

Now, we’re not saying that any kind of loot box purchase is acceptable by a kid but we have to be very cautious nonetheless. If we see that our child spends too much time and money playing a certain game, it’s our duty as a parent to intervene and make things better.

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