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The flawed Kinder Egg defence

The University of Adelaide's Dr Daniel King on what his "Unfair Play" academic study reveals about the industry's monetisation practices

Being a part of the wider games industry at the moment feels like working at the Chocolate and Razor Blade Factory. It's exciting, and people love chocolate after all, but there's currently a lot of awkward questions being asked about all the razor blades.

While politicians and the press stomp around our factory, beguiled and dumbfounded by the sheer complexity of it all, they keep saying: "As wildly misinformed people with a staggering amount of bias, we're concerned about the razor blade aspect of this operation. Can you help abate these concerns?"

And our response is to close the door to the razor blade room and put up a big sign that reads "NOT RAZOR BLADES". That is to say, the industry response to rising concerns has been inelegant and ineffective.

In her talk entitled "Help! Games under attack!" at Develop:Brighton last month, UKIE CEO Dr Jo Twist came to the industry's defence in the face of parliamentary inquiries, gaming disorder classifications, loot boxes, and the media. Dr Twist refuted the commonly-used attack that games employ algorithms to manipulate people, arguing the industry faces cultural bias for its use of loot boxes and similar mechanics, where things like LOL Surprise Dolls, Pokémon Cards, and Kinder Surprise Eggs don't.

"A Kinder Surprise Egg does not collect your data... People do not link their credit cards to Kinder Egg vendors"

Dr Daniel King, University of Adelaide

"We need to be aware of this as people, as the general public, but we need to remember that we're not the only people making money out of shit," said Twist. "When people talk about regulating loot boxes I always use [LOL Surprise Dolls] as an example.... You don't know what's in them. It's a whole bunch of plastic shit, right... These can cost up to Ł80."

This is just one example of the argument being applied in defence of loot boxes, or in an attempt to demonstrate how the games industry is unfairly targeted. It's a good soundbite, and plays into the industry's persecution complex -- admittedly developed from all the times it's been unfairly demonised by politicians and the press -- but academic research suggests that this is a false equivalence.

"There are some similarities but it is a pretty weak argument and comparison," says Dr Daniel King, a senior research fellow from the School of Psychology at the University of Adelaide. "A Kinder Surprise Egg does not collect your data. The Kinder Egg does not learn more about the person buying and opening the Egg, such as his or her preferences for its contents. The Kinder Egg does not adjust its contents according to an algorithm based on population data. People do not link their credit cards to Kinder Egg vendors. Kinder Eggs are physical and can be given away or traded, unlike virtual items.

"It is difficult to spend thousands of dollars on Kinder Eggs, unless one visits a Kinder Egg 'megastore' or the wholesaler perhaps. You have to go to a shop to buy Kinder Eggs, they are not acquired in your living room. Kinder Eggs are not by their nature integrated into a broader online social experience and community of Kinder Egg purchasers. The transaction, user experience, and consequences are quite different."

The comparison between mechanics like loot boxes and products like LOL Surprise Dolls was scrutinised by Dr Daniel King

The comparison between mechanics like loot boxes and products like LOL Surprise Dolls was scrutinised by Dr Daniel King

Dr King is lead author of a recent academic study entitled 'Unfair play? Video games as exploitative monetised services: An examination of game patents from a consumer protection perspective'.

The study examined 13 in-game purchasing patents in relation to consumer rights, and found that many could be "characterised as unfair or exploitative." The patents in question include behavioural tracking, price manipulation, incentivised continuous spending with no refund entitlement, and the "potential to exploit vulnerable players."

While the primary aim of Unfair Play was to evaluate IAP design features using the protection framework of the Australian Competition Consumer Commission -- based on the recent case law example of ACCC vs. Valve which saw the game company fined $3 million -- it's the secondary aim which is of wider industry relevance: to consider the "psychological and clinical implications" of certain design features. In particular, a focus on how these features "might affect gaming motivations and behaviors among vulnerable users," such as those who become "probelmaticaly involved" in games.

It's worth noting that the review is not comprehensive, and not all the patents have been implemented in games yet. The 13 were selected from a broad search of the Google Patents database of over 87 million filings. The search was designed to filter in-game monetisation schemes, and screened for consumer interaction. Of the 28 which matched, 15 were excluded due to "high similarity" with other patents.

Of the examined patents, 12 featured "sophisticated" data collection systems that use machine learning to offer customised purchasing opportunities. Additionally, players who have yet to spend money are categorised based on gathered data, and presented with "offers known to be accepted by players with similar profile characteristics."

"These individuals tend to have difficulties in delaying gratification and may be particularly vulnerable to overspending on in-game purchases"

Unfair Play? Video games as exploitative monetised services

"Other methods included solicitations which may 1) interrupt play, employ pressure tactics such as limited time offer with a countdown timer, and/or b) be embedded or implemented within the broader architecture of the game world, such as being positive in a central, unavoidable location in the game," reads the review.

These tactics are not uncommon in the games industry, or anywhere for that matter. Tech giants customise adverts and purchasing opportunities based-on the vast swathes of data they collect from us every day. It has become an unfortunate reality of life in the 21st Century, often excused as the "price you pay for a good service."

While we may be acutely aware that algorithms silently pull at the strings of our everyday lives, there is an existential horror to how easily these systems guide our actions. The list of 13 patents included in Unfair Play demonstrates the lengths game companies are going to in order to maximise IAP profit, with arguably little regard for the product, experience, or consumer wellbeing.

Take for example this gem, from Activision (US2016005270A1), which caused a stir when it was granted in October 2017, summarised in the review as follows: "A player purchases an item of perceived superior utility due to being selectively match-made into situations against a superior player with that item."

Then there's this one, from Kabam (US9138639B1): "A player may have to pay more/less for items based on their behavioural data, irrespective of the contextual value of the item."

Or this one from Aftershock Services (US9666026B1): "A player is encouraged to make urgent purchases of an item with the value of the purchase being altered on the basis of player data."

That's not even taking into account the raft of (marginally) less insidious, but still highly impactful monetisation systems such as dynamically adjusting virtual item bundles, targeted sales, rotating loot box odds, event-based currency, timed offers, personalised messaging campaigns, and population profiling.

Ultimately, the review found that some game companies have been developing complex systems designed to maximise revenue which "lack basic transparency" and encourage purchases "in ways that could be characterised as potentially unfair or exploitative."

"A player may have to pay more/less for items based on their behavioural data, irrespective of the contextual value of the item"

Summary of patent US9138639B1

"This review's observations of in-game purchasing systems suggest that, in some situations, a player who makes in-game purchases often does so at his or her own risk, with limited or no guarantee that this transaction will yield the desired outcome," reads the study. "These findings have implications for the study of problematic gamers, including individuals who may have gaming disorder, who tend to demonstrate strong decision-making biases related to gaming.

"Current addiction models suggest that these individuals tend to have difficulties in delaying gratification and may be particularly vulnerable to overspending on in-game purchases, particularly when presented with offers that provide immediate short-term gains or benefits in the game."

While the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) from the American Psychiatric Association includes a classification for internet gaming disorder, it is "separate from gambling disorder because money is not at risk." Essentially, it lacks the sunk cost fallacy of gambling, where players will spend more money in the hope of reclaiming losses.

However, Unfair Play suggests that it "may become more necessary for the DSM and other guidelines to recognize the financial aspects of problematic gaming behaviour." It is argued that that entrapment may explain players who escalate their in-game spending, without the financial incentive of gambling.

"In some games... players may spend an increasing amount of money that begets further spending on the game," reads the review. "For example, the patent US9582965B1 referred to a system that presents a series of time-sensitive offers that are designed to escalate the user's financial investment and encourage the user to spend unused virtual credit to minimize loss aversion.

"The investment of an irretrievable sum of money in pursuit of desired virtual items may be perceived by players as an investment to the extent that it will increase the likelihood of obtaining these items. In this connection, spending more and more money on virtual items may have a 'sunk cost' effect that serves to justify continued expenditure."

Addressing a parliamentary inquiry into immersive and addictive technologies in June, senior vice president of studios at King, Alex Dale, said the Candy Crush developer receives "two or three" emails a month from players concerned they are spending too much time or money on the game. That's from an active user base of 270 million.

"It's not about being 'forced' -- it's about the game anticipating or making the best judgement about what the player is likely to accept"

Dr Daniel King, University of Adelaide

This was his defence when responding to questions around the possible addictive nature of Candy Crush: "We have no indication from our meetings with players, or the customer care contacts we have, or any of the surveys, that there is a problem in this area beyond two or three people contacting us every month."

However, we put this response to Dr King, who says: "Yes, it is a minority of players that are overspending, as is the case with gambling products. One might ask, do people who lose at casinos tend to file complaints -- some might, but many don't. People often feel regret and shame about spending thousands on something like microtransactions and will avoid drawing more attention to it.

"It would be more helpful for researchers if companies like King were willing to disclose more than just numbers on complaints, and share other data that can inform our understanding of the player psychology and who is more at risk of overspending and how it happens."

A frequent defence of microtransactions in games is that they are optional, and that players will never be forced to spend money. While this is technically true in most cases, there is a streak of dishonesty here.

"The 'not forcing anyone' argument is undermined by the fact that many of these games appear to employ systems that are designed to present constant in-game purchasing opportunities," says Dr King. "The promotions and solicitations are unavoidable in some cases, and the game may have design elements that make it very frustrating to players unless they spend money.

"Our review suggests that there are some emerging designs that aim to capitalise on player data to present individualised offers that the system 'knows' the player is more likely to accept. So it's not about being 'forced' -- it's about the game anticipating or making the best judgement about what the player is likely to accept."

There is another argument used in defence of the games industry, that it is a young sector undergoing birthing pains. But after 40 years, the industry has gone from the innocence of Pong to meticulously crafted algorithms that appeal to the base instincts of our lizard brain.

You could compare it to how supermarkets examine human psychology to "enhance" the consumer experience, as demonstrated by how American consumers spend more in stores that lead you counter-clockwise; or how painting prison walls pink can lower inmate aggression; or how blue lights at train stations in Japan lowered suicide rates by 84%. We have all impulse-bought chocolate or sweets at the checkout just because they were there, or made that split-second decision to get a McDonalds (fast food chains often employ the colour red because it encourages reckless behaviour), or bought something we don't need because "Oh my god, what a deal!"

But really the two don't compare; one is using basic human psychology to cast a wide net, while the other is using a laser-guided harpoon to get you, specifically. Games have spent the last 40 years learning how best to manipulate people. Of course, "manipulate" makes it sound dirty, but the principles are the same. Whether it's the labyrinthine nightmare world of Dark Souls, or the intricately designed time loop of Minit, good game design understands people, how they work, and what they want.

Unfair Play is not a comprehensive dismantling of the problem, but it clearly demonstrates why there is a growing concern, and how the games industry is feeding that rather than heading it off. It's not a young industry, it knows exactly what it's doing -- it just has a decision to make.

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Latest comments (14)

Edward Buffery Head of LQA (UK), Testronic20 days ago
I've been playing Raid: Shadow Legends from Plarium for a few months, and am in a Facebook fan page for it. It's one of the most aggressively monetised games I've played. In addition to a large in-game store which you have to visit each day to get your 1 free item, you are also presented with between 2 to 5 unavoidable pop-ups for (sometimes personalised), limited time special offers every single time you launch the game. They'll be tuned according to how much money you've already spent, what stage of the game you're at, and additional offers pop-up mid-session based on what you're doing at the time. Found a good new champion? Here's a temporary special offer to buy instant xp items to level them up quickly! Silver running low? Here's a special offer on a pile of silver, just for you!

Many offers are for champion shards, essentially loot boxes, and a significant proportion of the posts on the FB group are players lamenting how they're spent hundreds of $ on shard packs and still not found anything they wanted. Others complain endlessly about how greedy the publisher is, or how none of the significant rewards available in the constant flow of temporary events and tournaments are possible to reach without a significant financial investment, yet they don't stop playing.

I see through these things due to my knowledge of these topics, but it's an effort to limit the amount of time I spend explaining basic probabilities, monetisation strategy and psychology to disgruntled players, many of whom I believe are being taken advantage of, albeit legally.
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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 20 days ago
One benefit- loot boxes will not get you fined $2000 each bringing them into the US because some people think they’ll choke children. They actually just started marketing a special version in the US (which I heard originated in India) that complies called KinderJoy

Think I’d rather have my kid take a chance with a real kinder egg though :) somehow Europe hasn’t been wiped out by them ;)
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Ennio De Nucci Game Designer 19 days ago
"You have to go to a shop to buy Kinder Eggs, they are not acquired in your living room. Kinder Eggs are not by their nature integrated into a broader online social experience and community of Kinder Egg purchasers."

Worst possible example. You absolutely can buy kinder eggs online and in bulk. And there's a community of collectors, especially for the vintage surprise toys.

I totally agree that some practices are unethical in the use of data to manipulate the user experience and their behavior, but the problem is approached in such a biased and uninformed way that sometimes it really feels like a witch hunt.

It's a shame there is so little effort to actually understand the game design behind loot boxes and their monetization from the people that criticize them. Especially compared to the titanic effort that is being put into demonstrating how bad they could be.
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Ian Griffiths Product Owner, Hutch19 days ago
Dr King is co-author of a recent academic study entitled 'Unfair play? Video games as exploitative monetised services: An examination of game patents from a consumer protection perspective'.
Based on the title I can only assume that's an unbiased study without any assumptions going into it! I'd love to see what actual data this study is based, I bet it's incredibly robust though!

Think LOL Surprise dolls have no social component!? How do you think kids toy demand propagates? One search on YouTube will show you a massive social component to these toys - https://m.youtube.com/results?search_query=lol+surprise+dolls#filters

I've tackled these arguments many, many times but look, if you want to make a point about harm you have to show a negative impact with data and an unbiased approach. If you choose to use words like 'insidious' and 'exploitative' as matter of fact and have a highly biased approach then people in the industry who actually design, implement and operate these things just won't take you seriously.
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 19 days ago
It speaks to the fledgling wisdom of the video game generation, when there is a resistance to normalizing abuse.

By that I mean the abuse of the customer by the product that is being normalized. Look at any cash register. It is filled to the brim with tobacco, alcohol, sugar, scratch lottery tickets, online store credits and more (e.g. Porn tapes back in the day in Denmark). If something exploits our impulse driven monkey brain, it sure is placed in locations where you would pull out your wallet anyway, i.e. cash registers. This reality is in many regards insane, however, it is also normalized.

Is the logical conclusion of these cash registers aimed at adults really to say "that, but online, instantly and targeted at ages between 12 and never learned the lesson of impulse control".

An industry considering itself artistic should be proud when its consumers still know the difference between appreciation and blind addiction and know how to draw a line in the sand. And at the end of the day, the industries for tobacco, alcohol et. al. get away with it because the national entities taxing them spun a nice narrative about how personal freedom in combination with taxation is a a higher good than self-destruction. It is this money which protects these industries from being thrown under the bus, no matter how many people die as a result. It is also this money the video game industry is not expending to protect itself from being thrown under the bus.

I am by no means a puritan, but I am no fool either. So when I look around I can tell who stands on a healthy middle ground of artistry and financial reality and who does not. If you haven't noticed, throwing people under the bus season has merely just begun.
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Ian Griffiths Product Owner, Hutch19 days ago
@Klaus Preisinger: Do you have any evidence that any of this is addictive? I mean real evidence, not just anecdote, not what the WHO and politicians threw at games as an entire class of 'addictive' products?

At what point are the products that you talk about, abusive? This sounds like the same old 'think of the children' and 'ban this sick filth' argument to me. Funny how it's the things that the working class typically enjoy that everyone gets all moral about it. Gotta stop the booze, cigarettes and alcohol lest any average Joe enjoy themselves for 5 minutes.

Oh yes, let's have the government come in and save us from all of these sinful products. Let's not have people with any actual agency, we can't risk that they might have a real life of their choosing. No, we know what's best for people and we should definitely choose for them. Yup, better to live nannyed to death by moral jobsworths than take a risk following our baser instincts I guess.

And you talk about deaths! Oh, the body count of f2p games must really be racking up I guess. One can barely walk the streets of London without stepping over a corpse that has fallen to Candy Crush!

And I mean, these people are making money out of entirely optional behaviours. Thank goodness there's nothing like that going on in the things we need like housing, healthcare and utilities. Then we might have some real problems on our hands!
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Ennio De Nucci Game Designer 19 days ago
@Ian Griffiths: I'd like to point that the WHO analysis and description for the gaming disorder is in line with the other addictions they describe, and to me, it totally makes sense.
The problem about the gaming disorder and its classification by the WHO, is the nonsense talk that has generated among people that are grossly uninformed or, worst, that are trying to take advantage for themselves by taking a stance against videogames (politicians hunting for consensus by exasperated parents?)
You don't hear this people arguing that sex or alcoholics should be banned because of the existence of sexual related disorders or alcohol abuse.
This is again, just to clarify that I don't have a problem with the classification by the WHO and I do think developers should acknowledge that games can potentially be a problem and always design and manage their games with that in mind and in an ethical way. I have a problem with people that think that the existence of such gaming disorder means, somehow, that the Free to Play business model or a loot box mechanic might be the cause of it.
They are not. Some people were suffering from the gaming disorder well before Free To Play and micro transactions were even possible. And by 'some', I mean very few. Very, very few. Now it seems that every player is an addicted victim of the industry's predatory practices.
This is what I reject, and I honestly find absurd that even within the industry we are not able to take a stand against such misrepresentation of the reality

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Ennio De Nucci on 6th August 2019 5:49pm

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Edward Buffery Head of LQA (UK), Testronic19 days ago
@Ian Griffiths: Not sure where your defensiveness is coming from. While there is nothing necessarily addictive about in-app purchases or gameplay mechanics, anything that CAN be made addictive and exploitative to increase profits WILL be made addictive by many companies, unless something is in place to limit that. Games are no different, why would they be? The specialists who are paid good money to design the monetisation side of many games absolutely understand the psychology and mechanisms of compulsive behaviour, feedback loops, dopamine hits, addiction, and there's a ton of money invested into utilising that knowledge to maximise revenue.

Consider the limits in place for other industries. Age limits for alcohol, tobacco, gambling, recreational drugs, etc. There are strict limits of where and at what times certain things can be publicly consumed, advertised, or in some cases even mentioned. There are PSAs about their dangers, support groups, charities, rehab centres, etc. All of these measures are completely unnecessary for the majority of users, but they exist for the significant minority of vulnerable people with compulsive or addictive personality traits. Almost none of these things exist for games.

Gaming is just 1 of many places where vulnerable people can end up feeling compelled to throw their money down the toilet and in fact, the platform lends itself particularly well to it. Personalised, time-limited ads, accessible at any time and any location, little to no restrictions on who can use them (ticking a box to 'prove' your age doesn't count), push notifications and daily freebies to establish habits,, and a myriad of purchasing options all super convenient to buy, easily forgettable, and almost entirely invisible to anyone else in your life who might more quickly notice other habits forming.

I get that you're not a fan of implementing legal restrictions on everyone to protect a vulnerable minority, so I'm guessing you'd be more inclined to remove restrictions on other potentially addictive products than to apply them to games. My point is that regardless of whether legal restrictions on potentially addictive things should be more or less strict than they are, games can fall on that spectrum, and should be treated consistently as such.
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Ian Griffiths Product Owner, Hutch19 days ago
@Ennio De Nucci: The WHO have provided no accessible data on their diagnosis, nor have they made any diagnosis tools available. Academics question it based on the evidence provided - https://akademiai.com/doi/full/10.1556/2006.5.2016.088?url_ver=Z39.88-2003&rfr_id=ori%3Arid%3Acrossref.org&rfr_dat=cr_pub%3Dpubmed&

Currently the latest and best data suggests the gaming disorder is either extremely rare or pretty much non-existent - https://www.newscientist.com/article/2151515-gaming-addiction-probably-isnt-a-real-condition-study-suggests/
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Ian Griffiths Product Owner, Hutch19 days ago
@Edward Buffery: I don't know why you think I'm being defensive, I'm challenging people's ideas with voracity.

A lot of people are putting forward notions that they believe are hacked by evidence. I'm pointing out that the evidence is exceptionally weak and the arguments made seem to be based primarily on anecdote and speculation, see my reply above to Ennio for links.

People have agency and do the things they want to. Until there's real proof of addiction and harm, which we're not seeing despite the considerable popularity of games, there's no justification to consider any restrictions.
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Edward Buffery Head of LQA (UK), Testronic19 days ago
@Ian Griffiths: Do you accept that people can become addicted to gambling, such as modern casino games? On top of the basic appeal of winning money and the diminishing returns on the dopamine rush when you win that makes someone willing to bet more and more to find that initial rush again, casinos have added a whole slew of additional hooks on top of that over the last few decades. Lights flashing at just the right frequencies to alter your brain waves, rewards cards you take with you from game to game that you can save up for rewards on, that transmit your data to the casino AI and provide unexpected bonuses when your enthusiasm is flagging, staff instructed to approach you if you're looking bored, background music specifically chosen to keep you feeling optimistic. Slot machines with massive bonus games you can unlock that are completely pre-determined but give the illusion of 'playing', simulated roulette wheels that look like there's 1 in 20 chance of winning the jackpot but actually run off adjustable loot tables. I could write paragraphs about this and I'm no expert.

The point I'm getting at is that EXACTLY the same mechanics lie underneath many casual games. Loot boxes, wheels of fortune, regular tournaments, limited special events, farming content for random loot, etc. Games give players regular freebies of the above, then present options to buy another, plus value packs for several more, or subscriptions to get freebies more regularly and raise your base / minimum level of engagement to a more expensive one. Sometimes publishers literally hire the same people who design casino games to provide monetisation input on mobile or browser games. Given all this, what is it about games (or gamers) that makes you think they are immune to the mechanisms of gambling addiction, given that they are in fact the same thing?
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 19 days ago
I think it to be wrong to narrow the discussion down to one word, i.e. addiction, and then demand a very specific entity to say something very specific. Imagine me shouting the Earth was flat until NASA took me personally to the ISS. So let's put this type of specificity aside for a moment.

What we used to have was an industry obsessed with the release window and having as many sales as possible in the short timeframe that games used to sell phenomenally well. PR campaigns were crafted towards influencing the user to preorder/prepurchase. There was also a clear distinction between interactions of the user with the game and interactions designed to nudge the consumer towards purchasing the game. While there was an endless discussion about the price that should be charged, the game was the game for the most part between 1990 and 2010. Sure, there was an influx of DLC, but as far back as 1989 there were 'expansion packs' for Test Drive 2 with single cars and tracks. It still was an economic model in which the publisher first had to prove that the thing added something to the game, before the customer bought the thing.

This relationship definitely soured in at least the past 10 years. Many games moved to a model in which value is no longer generated by the user buying something that ads something, but by buying something that was withheld during production stage. And we are not talking two cars on a disk in 1989, today, we are talking entire aspects of games, such as visual character progression.

The best example to get an idea of how toxic the relationship between publisher and customer can get is the endless 'only cosmetics' discussion. If your character was progressing visually over the course of a game, then that used to be something to be commended in reviews (as recent as Witcher 3). Today, cosmetics are a go-to feature to base your recurring profits on. To make matters worse, there is this weird mixture of PR efforts and user comments that reek of a toxic relationship between both. In 2019 companies tend to be clever enough not to get caught outright and consumers are in denial enough to defend publishers. Video game customers have an incredible stomach for putting up with things in a video game, just because they like another aspect of that video games. It is a nobody's perfect attitude stretched to its limits, which as it turns out is beyond all reason. That is not unlike people putting up with the cancer risk of cigarettes because of the kick from nicotine.

I reckon that example is extreme, since it puts death on one end of the equation and physical addiction to receiving joy from the drug at the other end. Naturally, you may want to prune that down on both sides a bit. After all, video games can be delivered without the risk of developing deadly tumors or illnesses and at the same time they can be tuned just enough that the interactions within cannot easily be classified as an addictive drug in the same sense that a new synthetic opioid can be. Games have the luxury of operating within that middle ground.

This should make us highly aware, whenever the debate runs away in the direction of extremes. Just as the games tread the middle ground, our description of interactions we consider problematic should tread a middle ground. But we should not be fooled into only allowing us to take action if an extreme is reached. Because there is no extreme to be reached and at the same time enough muddled middle ground to do something about.

After all, things appear on a video game screen for a reason. There is such a thing as intended user behavior. What ends up on screen is not just one thing, it is a blend of fun and frustration, a mixture of do and don't. At the end of each quarter companies release spreadsheets. But these do not include the amounts of laughs generated in the world from users playing the game, no, these reports only include a very specific user behavior. Hence there is an incentive to push people towards expressing that very specific user behavior. However, there is no use in dealing in absolutes like, addiction, manipulation and other words short of total mind control. Video games are not akin to shooting up heroin in a dark alley and publishers are not the fixers. The video game industry at its worst is more of a white collar crime, with a lot of moral grey areas and all the victim blaming that is so ubiquitous and yet so indicative of the toxic relationships all around.

So there is no need to demand an acquittal of all games from all accusations based on the fact that today's perceived transgressions do not fall in the life and death category. 99% of regulations are not about life and death, they are about enforcing a common sense that sadly seems to be absent without regulation. Yes, that includes not wrapping fish and chips in pieces of papers that may or may not include toxic colors that seep into your fries and it will eventually include how video games treat their customers when it comes to so called surprises.
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Ian Griffiths Product Owner, Hutch18 days ago
@Edward Buffery: I've addressed this before. Logically speaking, if they are the same thing then they would have the same outcomes. But they don't; despite all of the investigations no one has shown it. Ergo, they are not the same thing.
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 18 days ago
From a user that shall remain unnamed atm:
I usually spend on average $100 usd a week but sometimes more..
We have to learn that comments such as this can be harmless or shocking depending on who says them. If developers do not know or care to investigate behavior that could be harmful, regulation is the tool to force them. We have plenty of rules that allow to charge one group of people for basically any amount, while banning the sale to others.

Not just the law will have an interest in doing that, the more public pressure is generated, the more platform holders may be wanting to protect their brand. Nobody has much to fear as long as most Youtubers go after EA and Bethesda, because as a whole the industry will just make a statement about black sheep and be done. Instead, imagine Youtubers dragging Apple's iOS brand through the mud for providing the infrastructure to exploit children and other emotional character assassinations. I wonder how they will protect their brand image after that goes on for 24 months because it generates clicks.
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