MP LOVE TO STICK THEIR NOSES into an all manner of tech stuff, the latest being video game loot boxes which they reckon should be banned for children.
Those MPs in question come from the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, which has been looking into "immersive and addictive technologies" and reckons loot boxes are a form of gambling and aren't suitable for children.
The Committee, which is chaired by Facebook-chasing MP Damian Collins, recommends that loot boxes are put under gambling legalisation to keep video game-playing nippers from getting addicted to gambling.
"Loot boxes are particularly lucrative for games companies but come at a high cost, particularly for problem gamblers, while exposing children to potential harm," said Collins."Buying a loot box is playing a game of chance and it is high time the gambling laws caught up.
"We challenge the government to explain why loot boxes should be exempt from the Gambling Act."
We can understand why Collins and co would raise an eyebrow at loot boxes being bought by kids, especially when in-game purchases in the past have seen children rack up vast sums of debt for their parents.
But the Committee appeared to be gunning for games on the whole, noting that free-to-play titles and online games pose a threat to children due to their supposed addictive nature.
"Social media platforms and online games makers are locked in a relentless battle to capture ever more of people's attention, time and money," Collins said. "Their business models are built on this but it's time for them to be more responsible in dealing with the harms these technologies can cause for some users."
"It is unacceptable that some companies with millions of users and children among them should be so ill-equipped to talk to us about the potential harm of their products," Collins added.
As such, the Committee not only wants to see loot boxes regulated under the Gambling Act, but also wants the games industry to be less obtuse when it comes to discussing the addictive and potentially damaging nature of games. They also want age-rating systems to be better enforced to keep kids away from content that inappropriate for them.
There's still not a vast amount of academic evidence surrounding the dangers games could pose to children when it comes to addiction or behaviours. But the World Health Organisation has identified that game addiction is a thing, though you need to be playing games pretty bloody heavily to fall under that label.
"Having struggled to get clear answers and useful information from companies across the games industry in particular, we hope that our inquiry and this report serve to focus all in the industry - particularly large, multinational companies whose games are played all over the world - on their responsibilities to protect their players from potential harms and to observe the relevant legal and regulatory frameworks in all countries their products reach," the report said.
Some steps in the right direction are happening though, with Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo agreeing to show loot box odds, thereby making things a little fairer on folks who've splashed out real money for in-game items. Not that such a move protects kids exactly, especially tech-savvy nippers who've got access to their parent's credit card. µ
Stay alive and it'll find you
Chrome and punishment