Academics from the University of Plymouth are linking up with an award-winning education charity to develop educational material focused on the financial and psychological harms related to loot boxes and videogaming monetization.
A report by researchers at the universities of Plymouth and Wolverhampton found that loot boxes are "structurally and psychologically akin to gambling" and that large numbers of children are opening loot boxes.
Now Dr Helen Lloyd and Dr James Close are working with the team at the Young Gamers and Gamblers Education Trust (YGAM), to examine how best to translate the knowledge generated from their work into educational and interventional materials aimed at those most vulnerable to harms, including children, young people and at-risk cohorts such as those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
Loot boxes are video game-related purchases with a chance-based outcome, with half of the £700 million of total revenue generated in 2020 coming from just 5% of the buyers. Due to similarities with gambling, they have come under increasing scrutiny from media, academics and policymakers, leading to several jurisdictions – including The Netherlands, China and Australia – to introduce legislation on loot boxes. However, they are not covered by the 2005 Gambling Act in Great Britain, due to the lack of perceived monetary value of potential winnings. YGAM contributed to the UK Government’s call for evidence on loot boxes in 2020 with a decision on any new regulation expected this year.
As well as the development of additional PSHE materials for schools, the new partnership will also see the development of tailored educational approaches for specialist service providers through a series of engagement and planning workshops, aimed to design, tailor and customize educational delivery for each context. Each group will comprise of up to 15 key individuals representing relevant organisations and community groups to learn, develop and create a knowledge exchange action plan facilitated by the University of Plymouth team.