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Are Video Games Training Our Kids To Gamble?

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Kid playing arcade game

I have been a video gamer for all of my life. It was clear to me at a young age that I was destined to be a bit of a nerd. One of my earliest memories was from my third birthday. I remember being bought three gifts. One was a football, one was a bicycle and other was a Sega Mega Drive. To my father’s disappointment, the football and the bike ended up as dust collectors. My dad was obsessive about football and always wanted me to share similar interests. I had other plans and couldn’t simply share another man’s passion. I could never get a buzz from kicking a football but Street Fighter and Sonic the Hedgehog had me hooked.

Video Game Addiction

The truth is, gaming is not the same as it used to be. It has evolved and is more addictive than ever. I personally use gaming as a form of escapism but I also recognise that that is not healthy. As a mature gamer, I sometimes feel like I do not have it as under control as I think I do. It makes me wonder what it is doing to the minds of our children.

The World Health Organization recognises gaming addiction as a real concept. Modern games trick the brain into feeling rewarded. Younger people are becoming more addicted to video games.

In recent years, video games have adopted gambling style techniques to entice players to hand over money through “microtransactions”. Players are able to purchase in-game packs for a chance to obtain rare items. These packs cost real money and share similarities to a slot machine. They are a money-grabbing tactic put in place by game developers and have generated billions in revenue.

 

Sometimes I find myself purchasing virtual reward packs on games like Fortnite or Fifa. These packs contain in-game content such as gun skins and outfits or unlockable characters. The majority of the time, these virtual “rewards” are underwhelming. They are designed to make you want to pump more money in to chase the greater reward.

Just like traditional gambling, you are always looking for the jackpot that rarely comes. You tell yourself that you have spent X so you must be due Y. This is rarely the case at all. The buzz from gambling with money and gambling with reward packs is the exact same. We are teaching our kids to normalize and enjoy this buzz.

Instant Rewards in Games

Devil May Cry (2019) features microtransactions that allow the player to purchase every upgrade from the very start of the game. You can effectively purchase your way to the top without doing the hard work. The trouble with society is that we want instant gains with little or no work. Buying in-game reward packs at a young age can reinforce that attitude in later life. The video game industry is already extremely profitable. My opinion is that microtransactions do not belong in the gaming world. I love gaming, and I always will but I do think developers should be held accountable for the damage they are causing.

I believe if you have an addictive personality, you can be addicted to anything. Overindulgence is a trait of addiction. We do our best to shield our children from drug addiction, so why do we treat games differently?

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