Gambling Virtual Goods: How To Not Make Casino Games with Oliver J. Scholten

This talk will begin by quickly introducing legal and psychological definitions of gambling. Examples of mechanics found in video games - from loot boxes to microtransactions - will then be discussed, and how they may meet either of the previously described definitions. This discussion will be generalised to describe which combination of concepts, at the game design level (chance based mechanics and pre-outcome payment), contribute to the fulfilment of the criteria in these definitions. This will help developers and designers better understand the repercussions of their choices, and how they may be unintentionally interacting to create casino-like games.
This talk will include short descriptions of recent influential work to support any conclusions drawn, such as Drummond and Sauer’s article on loot boxes in video games meeting psychological definitions of gambling [1], Zendle and Cairns work on loot box spending and its relation to problematic gambling severity [2], and Koeder and colleagues' work on gacha games (Japanese games sharing many similarities with loot boxes) and the legalities therein [3].
Finally, a brief mention of decentralisation, or the integration of cryptocurrency-like technology in video games, will be made - highlighting how the previously described definitions may be unintentionally met through the introduction of transaction costs for in-game actions. This will bring the content of the talk right up to current issues in the field, giving the audience the understanding of gambling they need to not make casino games.

[1] Drummond, A. and Sauer, J.D., 2018. Video game loot boxes are psychologically akin to gambling. Nature human behaviour, 2(8), p.530.
[2] Zendle, D. and Cairns, P., 2018. Video game loot boxes are linked to problem gambling: Results of a large-scale survey. PloS one, 13(11), p.e0206767.
[3] Koeder, M.J., Tanaka, E. and Mitomo, H., 2018. " Lootboxes" in digital games-A gamble with consumers in need of regulation? An evaluation based on learnings from Japan. In 22nd ITS Biennial Conference, Seoul 2018. Beyond the boundaries: Challenges for business, policy and society (No. 190385). International Telecommunications Society (ITS).

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