Psychologists Link Loot Boxes to Gaming Addiction

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Since early 2018, many regulators in Europe have been trying to prove that loot boxes in video games are a form of gambling. The randomness of these in-game rewards has led to debates about the issue the world over. Now, Australian and Kiwi psychologists are weighing on the issue. According to their research, published by Nature Human Behaviour, there is a link in some cases.

On 18 June, gaming addiction was added to the World Health Organisation’s list of mental health disorders. This addition came about after psychologists noticed the similarity between compulsions to play gambling games and video games. However, many believe that these two addictions cannot be categorised the same way.

Psychologists Believe Loot Boxes are Gambling – AU News

Psychologists Reveal Research Data

According to the data published in Nature Human Behaviour, 45% of loot boxes tested from 22 video games met five psychological criteria for addiction. These criteria are:

  1. Exchange of money or valuable goods
  2. Chance determining the outcome
  3. Exchange made on an unknown future event
  4. Rewards at the expense of a loss
  5. Avoiding loss by not participating

Due to the nature of randomised rewards, the presence of these psychological factors can lead to an addiction diagnosis. While there is a distinction between gaming and gambling addiction, using these criteria for both is troubling. Psychologists believe that allowing these rewards in games rated safe for 17-year olds and younger is a problem.

Game Ratings

Dr Aaron Drummond from Massey University School of Psychology believes that Kiwis are more at risk of gaming addiction. This is because the country has more video game developers than anywhere else in the world. Over 600 video game developers work in New Zealand. What’s more, Dr Drummond believes that this places Kiwis at a higher risk.

More so, until recently, New Zealand had no way of treating these addictions. So, this data will hopefully aid both New Zealand and Australia in their efforts to prevent and treat gaming and gambling addictions.