Belgium says loot crates are gambling


Yeah. His argument can be distilled to “only physiological addiction is real”.

I don’t feel the need to debate that.


Poor analogy. Looking up information is not a reward, it’s research. You really, really need to read up on this stuff to understand it better. I think you are confused as to the nature of operant conditioning, gambling and “rewards”.


In the DSM-IV, gambling disorder is classified under impulse control disorders. Basically, a failure to consider the consequences of actions, like anger disorder. It is not addiction.

In the DSM-5, it has been reclassified as an addiction, based on features like habituation (need to wager larger and larger amounts to cancel out prior losses and break even). Other common features include shame/lying about gambling, destruction of relationships, loss of job, etc. This is very controversial, lots of psychiatrists do not like the changes in the DSM-5.

Regardless, this does not apply to loot boxes because you are not trying to break even, nobody really gets fired or loses friendships, etc.

Loot boxes have more in common with compulsions, which are basically habits with bad consequences that are hard to break (constant checking email, etc)


The reward is not the information, it’s finding a new dish that I love. Which I guarantee is a rare thrill, personally.


Ok. I’m not sure I’m qualified to argue the vagaries of compulsion vs addiction. My understanding of psychology is too limited. I would posit that both compulsion and addiction are harmful behaviors to be fostered in children through video games. Either way you slice it Loot Boxes are dangerous.

I understand your analogy better, but since Trip advisor isn’t manufacturing rarity in certain dishes for you and it’s completely random it’s not really a very good analogy for Loot Boxes .


A bunch of non-experts trying to parse the technical definitions of these terms is guaranteed to define the word ‘fruitless’. None of us knows what the fuck we’re talking about, and a few college-level psych courses or some pop-psych books by Malcolm Gladwell isn’t going to suddenly make this a useful endeavor.


Sure, it’s definitely bad behavior. But like many bad habits, I don’t think it warrants a new law.

I was just trying to illustrate the fact that variable rewards are ubiquitous when you look closely, and not always pernicious. Your brain responds to them for good reasons! Sometimes.


This seems to be the entire crux of your argument. That’s fine, but it’s … like … an opinion, man.


I’m not denying these laws are hard to enforce, but they exist and are manifold. Many, many countries have censorship/certification laws expressed in terms of the psychologicla effects on children.

Eh? It is explicitly illegal to buy cigarettes or alcohol on behalf of a minor.


Actually, my argument is it doesn’t warrant a new law because it would be very difficult or impossible to define “gambling” in a way that includes loot boxes but doesn’t affect a bunch of other things that we like. That’s still my opinion, man, but at least it’s open to refutation.

The biggest counterargument right now seems to be that loot boxes should be regulated because they cause an “addiction”, but I don’t think that stands up to scrutiny.

Yeah, way back when I wrote that (i.e. this morning!) we were up in arms about that disastrous financial consequences of loot boxes. So in retrospect, I guess I should have written “Any law designed to protect children financially …”

Now we seem to have moved on to the disastrous psychotropic consequences of loot boxes, which I find quite dubious but at least your example is better suited.


I think addiction vs. compulsion is a semantic argument that gets the issue at hand lost in the weeds (as many of the best arguments do).

Any prohibitive law will have unintended/undesirable consequences. Can’t go over 65 on the highway? I may be late for work and lose my job. Can’t steal? I may go hungry/not be able to afford that sweet, new graphics card. So just the presence of these undesirable outcomes shouldn’t preclude a law being in force (assuming you’re okay with speed limits and laws against thievery). I think the real question seems to be whether such laws balance the good and the bad in a favorable manner.


Did someone call for a psychology major?

Nope I am stepping away from this shit. Seriously, there is some science out there on addiction, including addiction caused by rewards. Heck, Diablo is built on this stuff.
My thesis touches on it a bit, but more on decision making and less on the addictive aspect of it. When I get a chance, I will post some of the research I have come across. Most can be found in google, I am sure.


Sure, and just to clarify: I don’t think loot boxes are “gambling”, and I don’t think they are “addictive”. But they are a nuisance, and of course we can always target particular nuisances with specific regulation be it annoying forms of IAP or annoying selfie sticks. I think self-regulation would be better, but legislation is always an option.

Finally, I don’t think we would actually be helping kids in that instance, as they aren’t really being harmed (at least, not more harmed than by crass commercialism in general). It’s more a matter of providing relief for inattentive parents. Which is not necessarily inappropriate, but neither is it particularly inspiring.


When folks here are debating loot boxes, are you talking about loot boxes that exist in games period, or loot boxes that sell for real cash? Because pretty much every game that has any loot has variable rewards built into the DNA of the game. I have to assume we’re not talking about laws banning kids from a game that has any variable rewards, only games where the variable rewards are sold for money?


I think so. I mean, like a slot machine, you put the quarter or dollar in, and put pops something. If it’s good, you feel rewarded, and the center of your brain responsible for rewards release dopamine. If it isn’t, well, you feel bad.

The thing is, for some people, that rewards feeling is highly addictive, so you chase the dragon as it were. And like a slot machine, you are given the option to put more coins in and get more chances to pull the lever.


I am referring to games where you can pay to get chests, loots, anything that’s basically has a random element that gives you some sort of benefit. There are some games that do this discreetly and make it wholly unnecessary and then you have EA combined with Disney which somehow resulted in soul eating machine for profits which no one predicted and… helped land the topic in front of a number of regulatory boards and lawmakers; they’d already been looking at this again but this kind of shoved it right there.

If it’s random loot, and you’re not paying more money to get it, well that’s not really emptying your pockets just your time.

I don’t really know how to discuss this without including both the worst offenders and the kind of not so bad examples in the same basket, but that’s what happens when it reaches this point.


And of course even “just” random loot can become an issue when, like with Diablo 3 at launch, loot can be bought and sold for real dollars and cents–openly supported by the devs, with them taking a cut, no less!–and the game’s difficulty algorithms seemed suspiciously tweaked such that the loot that could be bought and sold would be so much better than what you’d run across on your adventures, so if you wanted to reach and beat the endgame in a span of time somewhat less than The Heat Death of the Universe, you sucked it up and paid. . .


If only all our laws were inspiring…
Dan_Theman looks meaningfully at the Electoral College


Yeah the real money auction houses were a challenge but didn’t you have to play. It’s not like you were just handing them money for a random bag of loot right?


Eh, I take my complaints further than most in this thread, to the point of including a wider variety of skeevy, greed-driven practices in my net of “get this shit out of gaming y’all.”

Game devs know how addiction works. They know how the pleasure centers of our brain work. They have whole teams of people dedicating to measuring the tiniest possible tweaks to gameplay and systems to extract the maximum possible Capital Values Per Consumer Unitrons. And they just can’t help themselves from pushing it further and further and further.

Tweaking your game’s progression system to massively incentivize microtransaction purchases to actually get to the fun part of the game is a lower level “crime” (I mean this in the non legal sense for the pedants waiting in the wings of this thread! Ah! Nuance!) than, say, actively targeting 4-year-olds by putting gigantic green BUY NOW TO MAKE DORA SMILE YAY buttons all over your Dora The Explorer game’s UI, sure, but it’s still bullshit.