If your last memory of playing video games involves an arcade, some quarters and Pac Man, you might not realize that the line between video games and gambling has blurred considerably in the last five years. Thanks to the growing use of “loot boxes” (in-game prizes that can be won, found or purchased) many video game fans are calling for video games to be regulated more like games of chance, than games of skill.
This issue came to light earlier this week when a Slovenian video game fan named Lovro Pirjevec launched a crusade aimed at getting the the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) to classify loot boxes as a form of gambling. His efforts, so far, have focused on a (non-binding) petition at Change.org.
To make his case, Pirjevec leans on the tried-and-true argument of skill vs. chance saying:
As per Google’s definition of a gamble: take risky action in the hope of a desired result. And Dictionary.com: to stake or risk money, or anything of value, on the outcome of something involving chance Lootboxes and crates in video games fit the description entirely, as every time you open them, you gamble and take chances to win rare in-game content.
Loot boxes have become an increasingly common component of modern video gaming with variations including loot boxes that can be purchased directly (without knowing what’s in them); loot boxes that can be earned through in-game gambling; and loot boxes that are dropped at the completion of a mission. Pirjevec says all of those are forms of gambling and should be regulated by the ESRB.
For their part, the ESRB have already ruled that loot boxes are not gambling, so Pirjevec’s mission may be simply a case of tilting at windmills.
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