Man and woman gaming on a Playstation. Game design / game arts. Getty images 1217244091

Our recently completed GambleAware project focused on the 'convergence of gambling and videogaming,' producing a suite of knowledge around the psychological and financial harms related to the monetisation of video gaming, especially via gambling-like mechanisms (so-called 'loot boxes'). This work has produced a series of high-impact outputs, including academic publications, policy-focused white papers and attendance at House of Lords roundtable events aimed at steering UK policy for the forthcoming Review of the Gambling Act.

Knowledge generated from this work has utility that extends beyond these academic and policy-focused outputs. Instead, our findings have utility for educational interventions. Here, our work has highlighted how harms related to videogame monetisation are enabled not just via the variable rewards of loot boxes, but are positioned within a broader landscape of 'predatory monetisation.' This includes in-game currencies (with obfuscated exchange rates), the endless fear of missing out on limited-time offers, and the deployment of various psychological/behavioural heuristics and biases such as anchoring, availability and endowment effects.

We aim to use Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF) support we have received to translate our knowledge into educational and interventional materials aimed at those most vulnerable to such harms: children, young people and at-risk cohorts such as those with special educational needs (SEN). This will be achieved via packages of work coordinated from the University of Plymouth.

First, we will work collaboratively with our partner YGAM – a UK charity aimed at informing, educating and safeguarding young people against gaming and gambling harms, with a track record of producing PHSE curricula – to develop educational material focused on the financial and psychological harms related to videogaming monetisation. Second, we will work alongside YGAM to disseminate these materials to schools and children across the South West. Finally, we will work alongside specialist local providers – including SEN providers – to co-design, tailor and customise educational delivery via a series of engagement and planning workshops.

Related Publications:

Close, J., Spicer, S., Nicklin, L., Lloyd, J., & Lloyd, H. (2022). Loot box engagement: relationships with educational attainment, employment status and earnings in a cohort of 16,000 UK gamers. Addiction. doi:10.1111/add.15837

Close, J., Spicer, S. G., Nicklin, L. L., Lloyd, J., Whalley, B., & Lloyd, H. (2022). Gambling and Gaming in the United Kingdom during the COVID-19 Lockdown. COVID, 2, 187-101. doi:10.3390/covid2020007

Lloyd J, Nicklin LL, Spicer GG, Fullwood C, Uther M, Hinton D, Parke J, Lloyd H & Close J (2021) 'Development and validation of the RAFFLE; a measure of Reasons And Facilitators for Loot box Engagement' Journal of Clinical Medicine 10, (24) , DOI Open access

Spicer S, Laura N, Joanne L, Maria U, Lloyd H & Close J (2021) 'Loot boxes, problem gambling and problem video gaming: A systematic review and meta-synthesis' New Media and Society , DOI Open access

Nicklin LL, Spicer SG, Close J, Parke J, Smith O, Rayman T, Lloyd H & Lloyd J (2021) 'It’s the attraction of winning that draws you in” – A qualitative investigation of reasons and facilitators for videogame loot box engagement in UK gamers' Journal of Clinical Medicine , DOI Open access

Close J, Spicer SG, Nicklin LL, Uther M, Lloyd J & Lloyd H (2021) 'Secondary analysis of loot box data: Are high-spending “whales” wealthy gamers or problem gamblers?' Addictive Behaviors 117, 106851-106851 , DOI Open access