The purchase of loot boxes in video games is associated with the risk of problems with the game, says a study

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Players who buy “loot boxes” are up to twice as likely to gamble, new research published today in the journal shows. Addiction Research and Theory.

They are also more likely to have a gambling problem compared to players who do not purchase these virtual treasure chests, based on findings based on more than 1,600 adults in Canada.

The authors say the results cast doubt on the theory that psychological factors create the link between gambling and loot boxes, banned in some countries, including Belgium, and discussed for legislation in many others around the world. .

Their study demonstrates that the association between these video game characteristics and gambling exists even when child abandonment, depression, and other known risk factors for gambling are taken into account.

The authors say their findings have potential implications for policymakers and for healthcare. They are calling for more research into the benefit of damage minimization features, and some online platforms have already implemented them, such as telling players the odds of winning when they purchase a loot box.

“The findings indicate that loot box purchases represent an important marker of gambling risk and problem gambling among people who play video games,” says Sophie Coelho, Ph.D. student at York University, Toronto.

“The persistent associations we observe between loot box purchases and gambling may provide preliminary support for the role of loot boxes as a ‘gateway’ to gambling and, ultimately, to gambling problems.” of gambling. Loot boxes can incite people to gamble and increase susceptibility to problematic gambling.”

Designed to grab the player’s attention, loot is typically purchased with real-world money and contains a random assortment of virtual items, such as weapons or new characters, and is largely unregulated, unlike online gambling. .

There is already evidence of the link between buying loot boxes and gambling and problem gambling. What is still unknown is whether this occurs due to known psychological risk factors for the game.

For this study, the authors analyzed last year’s loot box purchases among 1,189 students at five Canadian universities and 499 adults recruited from an online crowdsourcing platform and online survey/polling site. Starting at age 18, all participants completed an online questionnaire about their addictive and gaming behaviors, mental health, and other issues.

The study took into account a greater number of psychological risk factors for gambling than previous research. These included emotional distress, the tendency to act rashly when upset, and adverse childhood experiences, including abuse and neglect.

Results showed that a similar proportion (17%) of student and community participants purchased loot boxes with an average spend of $90.63 and $240.94, respectively. The majority identified as male in both groups of participants.

Over a quarter (28%) of students who purchased loot boxes reported gambling in the past year compared to 19% of those who did not. More than half (57%) of the community adults who bought them had gambled and 38% of the non-buyers.

Students who reported riskier loot box buying habits (for example, buying more loot boxes) were more likely to have a worse gaming habit. However, this was not the case for the community participants, which the researchers attribute to a small sample size.

Of all the psychological risk factors, adverse childhood experiences were most consistently associated with a greater likelihood of gambling in the past year and greater gambling problems.

The authors say this may suggest that people with parenting problems have a “greater vulnerability” to developing gambling problems. They add: “This can be exacerbated by interacting with gambling-like features built into video games, such as loot boxes.”

Although the scientific team adjusted “for a wide range of transdiagnostic psychological variables,” they say that one of the limitations of their study is that they did not account for all psychological, sociodemographic, or gambling-related confounding factors. between buying loot boxes and gambling, some of which “undoubtedly exist.”

More information:
Sophie G. Coelho et al, Loot box purchase is associated with gambling and problem gambling when known psychological risk factors of gambling are controlled for, Addiction Research and Theory (2022). DOI: 10.1080/16066359.2022.2141717

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Citation: Video Game Loot Box Purchases Associated With Risk of Problem Gambling, Says Study (December 2, 2022) Accessed December 2, 2022 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-12-loot- video-games-problem-gambling. html

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