Study: ‘Loot Box’ Video Game Feature Like Gambling
A study by the University of British Columbia found that the “loot box” feature in modern video games generates behavior not unlike problem gambling.
A feature popular in modern mobile video games could lead to risky gambling behavior, concludes a study performed by the University of British Columbia.
The new research, published April 16 in the journal Addictive Behaviors, found that “loot boxes”—randomly generated prizes that can be attained or purchased within a game—results in behaviors very similar to those displayed by problem gamblers.
“Our study is among the first to investigate the links between loot boxes and gambling,” Gabriel Brooks, a Ph.D student from UBC’s Centre for Gambling Research and lead author of the study, told the magazine. “Our findings are consistent with voiced concerns that loot boxes overlap with gambling, and support the need for regulators to consider gambling-like mechanisms within video games.”
Loot boxes began appearing in video games in the mid-2000s and have grown in popularity since. In some cases, players earn them as rewards for game play, but players are often encouraged to buy them using real or virtual currency. For the study, researchers developed five questions designed to measure excessive or risky use of loot boxes. The participating gamers, all North Americans of at least university age, assessed themselves based on statements such as “I frequently play games longer than I intend to, so I can earn loot boxes” or “I have bought more loot boxes after failing to receive valuable items.”
Participants also completed surveys that are commonly used in gambling research to assess gambling behavior, beliefs about gambling, and risk-taking behavior, as well as a newer survey designed to identify problem video gaming.