The UK government’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee will look into the larger reach of technologies and their potential to be addictive by asking for experts to weigh in on the matter. Loot boxes were specifically mentioned in the notice, examining the link between the randomized contents of the purchasable in-game boxes might have links to gambling behaviors, according to the inquiry notice.
“The inquiry will examine the development of immersive technologies such as virtual and augmented reality, and the potential impact these could have in the worlds of sport, entertainment and news,” it is stated on the Parliament website. “The inquiry will also look at how the addictive nature of some technologies can affect users’ engagement with gaming and social media, particularly amongst younger people.”
Parliament is currently accepting written submissions of evidence for the inquiry. A few submissions of this sort have already been published on the website, including a letter from one gamer who compared the “Call of Duty: Black Ops 3” loot box system to an actual slot machine and wrote that he spent £800 to £1000 a year on “FIFA” as a teen. The full list of published written evidence from the community can be found here. Naturally, the opinions of the public vary widely, and the written evidence submitted offers varying perspectives on whether or not certain aspects of gaming, such as loot boxes, are addictive or harmful.
“[The committee] has heard differing views about the nature and extent of gaming disorder, and has discussed the robust evidence-base that is needed for reliable policy making on the issue,” according to a press release from Parliament.
The UK isn’t alone in its concerns over loot boxes. The US Federal Trade Commission will hold a public workshop later this year to discuss the issue, according to a letter from commission chairman Joseph Simons.
“… We are currently planning a public workshop on loot boxes for later this year as one non-law enforcement option,” Simons wrote. “A workshop could provide a forum for stakeholders representing wide-ranging perspectives, including consumer advocacy organizations, parent groups, and industry members. It also could help elicit information to guide subsequent consumer outreach, which could include a consumer alert.”
The concern over “gaming disorder” caught public attention last summer, when the World Health Organization proposed the addition of the disorder to its International Classification of Diseases.
Witnesses for the inquiry will include Dr. Henrietta Bowden-Jones, director of the National Problem Gambling Clinic, Dr. Daria Kuss of Nottingham Trent University, and Dr. David Zendle of York St. John University.
The inquiry will be held 2:30 p.m. UK time on Wednesday, Feb. 27, at the Grimond Room of the Portcullis House.