When the word “ game ” is used, parents & legislators are left off guard. But video gambling, or gambling 2.0 is a more acurate way to caracterize today’s video games
I learnt speaking to Kev Clelland, of the UK based non profit YGAM, that the gambling industry in the UK must allocate a portion of its profits yearly to charities like his, fighting gambling addiction. They added “gaming” to their name and mission to account for the new ways of gambling video gaming has brought to become the Young Gamers & Gamblers Education Trust. Loot boxes and paying for uncertain rewards are two aspects of the casino-like mechanisms incorporated in GTA, Fortnite, and other major online entertainement today targeted at teenagers.
How about legal action, a North American tradition? In Québec, Canada’s francophone province, a class-action law suit from Calex Legal has been instigated against makers of Fortnite for failing to inform parents of the addictive nature of the game. It is mirorred on tobacco industry rulings.
In 2016, Valve maker of Countertrike: Global Offensive, was attacked in court for supporting off shore companies that help players engage in “skins gambling”,a $7.5 billion in 2016 according to EIler & Krejcik Gaming Advisors. The FTC here came to a settlement with prominent gaming YouTubers, Trevor “TmarTn” Martin and Thomas “Syndicate” Cassell, two popular Counter-Strike: Global Offensive YouTubers who were outed as the owners of a CS:GO gambling site they frequently promoted.
The video game industry has resisted efforts to have it participate in addressing the problems it creates with softare that includes casino-like mechanisms. Its time for governments to step up to the plate, no matter how disconnected they are from video games.
The evidence is prevalent today on the addictive, gambling like design of so-called video games. Natasha Dow Schüll, an anthropologist and professor, is also the author of Addiction by Design ( 2012). She has spent years studying how slot machines hold gamblers, spellbound, in an endless loop of play. She never imagined the addictive designs which she had first witnessed in Las Vegas, would go bounding into Silicon Valley and reappear on virtually every smartphone screen worldwide.
Listen to her two interviews on addiction by design on the Your Undivided Attention podcast ( Episodes 1 &2 in the series). Natasha Dow Schüll offers a prescient warning to users and designers alike: How far can the attention economy go toward stealing another moment of your time? Farther than you might imagine.
Watch an interview of Dr Dow Schüll on Slot Machines and Video Games on The Agenda with Steve Palkin.
One gamer knows all about the pull of online gaming and has dedicated his life to telling gamers and parents about it: recovered addict Cam Adair launched Game Quitters in 2000 after he escaped suicide linked to excessive online gaming.