NHS is seeking a ban on video game ad-ons as they fear kids are becoming gambling addicts.
With the rise in popularity of video games, especially mobile video games, developers are facing extreme competition in the field. Companies are coming up with novel monetization models just to stay in the game.
According to the NHS, some of those models are giving rise to gambling addiction in kids. Games like Fortnite which allow players to buy “loot boxes” which allow players an advantage in the game are on the rise. So great is the frenzy around these games, kids are spending up to £2,000 on these game items. It classifies as ‘gambling’ because the players when buying these items have no clue what they might get in return. This uncertain factor is what fuels their addiction. It is in essence encouraging kids to keep spending in the hope that will get something better next time. Kids are even spending money without their parents’ permission or knowledge on these items.
Due to this gambling element in the games, video game addiction is on the rise. According to Wikipedia, video game addiction is defined as:
“Problematic, compulsive use of video and/or internet games, that results in significant impairment to an individual’s ability to function in various life domains over a prolonged period of time.”
There is no doubt that these problems are on the rise and there is a need for all the parties involved to come up with solutions but it seems that there is little being done.NHS mental health director Claire Murdoch has warned that gaming firms must ban loot box sales to kids and that it is “setting kids up for addiction”. She also said that she wishes to see the introduction of “fair and realistic” spending limits for adults too. The NHS has also set up clinics to treat kids as young as 13 for gaming and social media addiction while calling for regulators to check and oversee the gaming industry.
How the gaming industry and regulators respond to the NHS’ warning is yet to be seen but many fear that due to the immense capital and influence these companies hold, a solution is not possible, at least in the near future.