Responsible gaming is a worldwide concern. Some countries have various regulations to protect players and minors from real money gambling products. Others are yet to regulate their markets, and video games not meant for gambling almost have no regulation at all. Over the last few years, the lines between gambling and video gaming have become blurred. Modern gambling products designed for online punters are similar to console games and feature interesting quests and treasure hunts. Video games also feature items that require real money purchases, calling for better regulations.
All groups involved have a responsibility to ensure players are protected. Responsible gaming is all about preventing minors and problem gamblers from placing real money bets. It also includes regulations that protect all players from any form of exploitation, gambling harm, and money laundering. In the case of video games, parents should indeed monitor and limit the time their children spend playing games. More importantly, the industry should impose restrictions and limits to protect players from playing harm. Here’s an overview of responsible gaming in video games.
More Exposure to GamStop and Self Exclusion
GamStop is a well-known self-exclusion scheme in the UK. The UK Gambling Commission introduced it as a mandatory license requirement. As such, all online gambling operators licensed by the commission must participate in the scheme. GamStop involves players voluntarily signing up to become GamStop players. Upon registration, their details are added to a database of other players who have chosen to self-exclude from online gambling. The minimum self-exclusion term is six months, but players can also choose one or five years.
Once on GamStop, you cannot play games on any casino licensed in the UK. However, you can still explore games on the following casino sites not registered with GamStop or any other self-exclusion tool. GamStop is one of many such schemes, Sweden has SpelPaus, while Denmark uses ROFUS, both of which are national self-exclusion schemes. These schemes are well known in the gambling industry. Unfortunately, that’s not the case in the video gaming industry. More exposure to self-exclusion is required to give video gamers an option when they need to break from playing.
Removing Loot Boxes from Video Games
Loot boxes were once popular in video games until they became controversial. In the Mid 2010s, most countries rallied against loot boxes because of their harm. Essentially, these are virtual treasures that contain various undisclosed items. A loot box may have a skin for character customization, new tools, weapons, turbo, lives, or any other item that’s usable in the game. Players purchase loot boxes using tokens that often require playing for several hours to acquire. The other alternative is to buy tokens using real money, and that’s where the problem starts.
Paid loot boxes have been controversial for a while and come under strict regulations and criticism in various countries. Some providers have already removed or replaced them from their games. Notable examples include Bungie removing all paid loot boxes from Destiny 2 in 2020. EA had also removed in-game purchases from Star Wars three years earlier, and the US introduced laws banning loot boxes from all video games marketed to players younger than 18 years. Phoenix Labs also removed the feature from Dauntless, and so did Pysonix with their Rocket League game.
Responsible Gaming in eSports
Esports (electronic sports) have become a worldwide phenomenon with millions of fans. Esports are video game competitions that involve different groups of players. The games have been professionalized and experience massive interest from children, adolescents, and adults alike. In fact, eSports tournaments are so popular today they appear in many sportsbooks. The tournaments are organized by different leagues and players compete against each other for lucrative prizes. The eSports scene has also attracted a large number of spectators, filling out arenas and streaming in the millions.
Pundits compare eSports players (the competitors) to professional poker players considering the extended duration spent playing games, level of skill involved, and quality. However, the events viewed by millions are a few of numerous smaller tournaments that occur in schools, neighborhoods, and among peers. Unfortunately, eSports involves spending a lot of time playing video games and money purchasing in-game features. Both parents and providers should work towards limits, especially for minors. The industry also has a responsibility to protect players from overindulging.
Gaming Harm Awareness
Various studies have been published concerning the potential harm of video games. Although different from gambling, video games are just as addictive to minors and adults. The fact is problem players exist in both dimensions. The video gaming industry should offer more clarity and awareness on the potential harm of spending more time on computer games and mobile gaming websites. Awareness and limits are essential to ensure players know what they are getting into and find help whenever they need to step away.
Responsible gaming is commonly used when referring to gambling products, such as video slots, blackjacks, roulettes, poker, bingo, craps, and such games. Self-exclusion, limits, and awareness about these tools are other essential components of responsible gaming. However, it also applies to the gaming industry. Monetary rewards may not be the motivation for players exploring video games online or via consoles. Still, there are various other aspects to review. The gaming industry is still changing, and regulations are always part of the evolution.