The Week - Junior

Should loot boxes be banned for children?

Some MPs have said that loot boxes in video games are a form of gambling.


Those of you who play video games might already know about loot boxes. In recent years, they have become a way for video-game companies to make more money. However, they are also a way for those who play video games to lose money. A lot of games that feature loot boxes are aimed at young people. On 12 September, Members of Parliament (MPs) published a report calling on the Government to pass a law banning loot boxes for children. This is because the MPs consider loot boxes to be gambling, and it is illegal for children to gamble. Some people support this proposal because they think loot boxes are dangerous. Others say they are no different to buying a pack of stickers. So what do you think? Are MPs overreacti­ng or should loot boxes be banned for children?

Yes – they’re a gateway to gambling

Loot boxes encourage children to spend money they might not have. The company behind the game RuneScape has said some players spend up to £5,000 a month. This is not only wasteful but could also give children a gambling habit. In 2018, a study by York St John University found a link between loot boxes and problem gambling – which is when people are addicted to it. The Church of England has called loot boxes “a gateway to gambling”. Companies whose games include loot boxes are being greedy. If you’ve bought a game, then you shouldn’t have to spend any more money on it. Loot boxes go against the spirit of playing games, because they make people want to spend money rather than improve their skills.

No – they’re part of the game

For some young players, loot boxes are an enjoyable part of the game. There are many things in the real world that are similar to loot boxes and aimed at children, such as packs of stickers. Kerry Hopkins, the vice president of the video-game company EA, has compared loot boxes to Kinder Eggs (chocolate eggs with a surprise toy inside). Instead of banning loot boxes, their contents should be made public before a player pays for them. For example, the video game Fortnite has made its loot boxes transparen­t so that players can see what’s inside them. The report by MPs has suggested that loot boxes should only be opened using credits earned in the game. Banning loot boxes would be an overreacti­on; change them instead.

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