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Think Outside the Box: The Blurred Line between Gambling and Gaming

There is a fine line between gaming and gambling and more often than not it is blurred beyond recognition. Loot boxes are still an integrated part in many computer games that have also taken the world by storm with the help of eSports. Now the University of British Columbia has discovered an intrinsic link between typical gambling triggers and the experience many video game players have on a regular basis.

It is no secret to anyone that there are many gambling features sprinkled throughout our day-to-day lives. Such could be found on social media with the swipe to refresh feature that allows players to drag down the news feed for an instant refresh and a new batch of content. This motion very much resembles the lever of a traditional slot machine, later introduced in their modern versions. Something few parents and players realize is that video games also feature a familiar gambling feature.

Loot Boxes Equal Gambling

Loot boxes are a feature of many popular games to the likes of Star Wars Battlefront 2 and many more. These random boxes come with a certain prize and introduce the element of chance to the otherwise inconspicuous game. Ever since the summer of 2017, said loot boxes have been in the spotlight of attention with their potentially harmful effect on children and easily impressionable minds.

Now the University of British Columbia has concluded its extensive study on the subject, finding a clear connection between the principle of operation of said random boxes and gambling activities available at traditional casino venues. The player purchases a loot box and their prize could be anything from valuable items to very rare equipment that could boost their character’s in-game development.

Purchases are done via tokens fueled by real-life currency. According to the study, as many as 93.8 percent of the individuals have played a video game featuring loot boxes at least once in their life. Some 88.9 percent of them have purchased said boxes in an attempt to try their luck and possibly make a considerable jump in their character development. When it comes to studying addictive behavior, realizing the problematic behavior is the first step.

UBC Discover the Link between Them

Participants in the analysis had to give answers related to the gaming behavior and habits they have, which were later on compared to typical gambling behavior associated with extensive time spent on slot machines and table games both online and in brick-and-mortar facilities. Following a thorough analysis, a relation was identified.

About 79.3 percent of the individuals participating in the study pointed out that loot boxes bring the same amount of excitement and a general feeling of wagering. Meanwhile, 86.2 percent of the players confirm that loot boxes are truly a form of gambling in their essence. The said random boxes are an issue among not only Canadian players, but also when it comes to players from around the globe.

Countries part of the European Union have also discussed the issue at the Gambling Regulators European Forum in September 2018. As many as 15 countries inked the statement introduced. May 2018 also saw the Belgian Gaming Commission classify loot boxes as gambling, which eventually saw giants to the likes of Blizzard, Valve, and EA remove the loot boxes from their games in Belgium.