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Children’s commissioner calls for a clamp down on loot boxes

Anne Longfield, the children’s commissioner for England has called for tighter legislation to protect kids from excessive in-game spending.

She wants ministers to amend current laws so that loot boxes are classified as gambling. She also wants there to be a maximum daily spending limit so that kids can’t spend excessively (or at least too excessively) each day.

Much has been said about the risks that loot boxes provide, allowing players to spend real money to unlock extras such as new character skins, equipment, or new players in the case of games such as FIFA. However, one fundamental issue seems to be that Longfield refers to the process as ‘chasing their losses’.

That’s not entirely the case in the traditional definition of gambling. Many games, such as everyone’s favourite Battle Royale title – Fortnite – keep it fairly clear cut as to what you’re going to get. After all, the game has transparent loot llamas so you know exactly what you’re going to get every time. There’s also the matter that you do always get something back via the loot box, although it might not be the ideal ‘prize’. Additionally, the notion of “chasing their losses” is somewhat nonsensical, given that these loot boxes do not feature a cash prize with which to make back their ‘losses.’

It’s a tough one to know what the right thing is to do and it seems like information and education is key most of all. However, a daily limit certainly sounds like a good plan for parents who aren’t always there to see what their children are doing when gaming.

Elsewhere in the report, it was found that some children fear they’re addicted to games and don’t feel in control of how much they play. That’s in sharp contrast to yesterday’s news that there’s been found to be no evidence of gaming addiction to be a clinical disorder but peer pressure could be playing a hefty role in luring kids in for longer than they feel comfortable.

Story by Jennifer Allen

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