He's Got Game

Sascha Heist is a Penticton gamer. Feel free to contact Sascha at sggall@telus.net with gaming questions and more.

Many readers will know my disdain for the monetization of gaming in its current state. In the last few years gaming seems to have gone backwards with many developers. Instead of games showing innovation from game to game, they instead have rehashed previous titles with added methods of monetization.

If you look at games like the new “NBA 2K20,” they didn’t even try with some parts still saying “NBA 2k19” during the game. But, the developer did had plachinko, a roulette wheel and a slot machine in a game rated E for Everyone.

Sport titles like FIFA have one of the worst gambling mechanics with loot boxes. The UK already scoffed at game companies saying people enjoy having to pay for a very slim chance of getting any character you want. The UK also addressed children spending insane amounts of money linked to their parent’s accounts.

Children can have the same impulse with these loot boxes as adult gambling addicts. The ESRB in the United States rates these games as E for everyone meaning it’s perfectly fine for your five-year- old. Game ratings haven’t really changed since they were introduced for blood and violence in games like “Mortal Kombat 1.”

The UK just released a report by their Children’s Commissioner looking into loot boxes and other microtransactions. The commissioner interviewed children of different ages to see how they feel about these different aspects in gaming they were introduced to. This report brought news issues to light that even I, myself never even thought about. Games like “Fortnite” are extremely popular with many children and teens. These games are “free” to download and play, but full of micro transactions. Some of the children felt bullied by strangers and friends if they didn’t have the latest skin or in- game item.

One child was called “trash” and mocked for being poor if they just had the free or default skin. This is the same as bullying a classmate for not wearing Nike shoes in school.

When the commission studied yearly spending, they saw a steady rise in spending year after year by these young players. This comes as no surprise as more and more game developers are throwing these transactions into every game. Children felt pressured to spending money in game by strangers and famous Youtubers.

These Youtubers get paid for opening loot boxes to make them seem to have better odds. Companies actually manipulate these loot box odds for these Youtubers making wins easier by a large margin.

The children interviewed showed the same behaviour gamblers do. One child FIFA player said “I never get anything out of (buying packs) but still do it.” Another said, “You feel like you wasted your money, then you open more.”

This coming from kids as young as six, addicted to gambling.

The government needs to catch up with the times and help protect children and teens from these predatory game companies. All Canada has to do is put a warning sticker on these games to show “gambling” and that they aren’t appropriate for younger players. If you want to read the report yourself a link is below.

www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/publication/gaming-the-system/