Wednesday, November 29, 2017

U.S. Representative Wants to Ban Children from Buying Games with Loot Boxes

A U.S. State Legislature is looking to ban children from buying video games that contain Loot Boxes. Hawaiian State Representative Chris Lee has been following the loot box craze for years, and states he's an avid gamer. With the blow-up over Star Wars: Battlefront II, the situation has captured his interest in a big way. He sees how games like this could be used to prey on kids and convince them to spend their parents money en-masse to "beat" the game.

Last week Lee caught the attention of many gamers when he held a press conference to talk about the predatory practices of publishers like EA. From then on, he's been diving into the realm of microtransactions with his political career in hopes of creating legislation that will curb the practice.

In theory, this doesn't sound like a bad idea. I'm still against the idea of forbidding children from buying a game. As long as they are purchasing a game within their age group, there shouldn't be restrictions. The ESRB does a fine job regulating itself. But the extremism of loot boxes and microtransactions has hit a new fervor. Something needs to be done to let publishers know that pay to win models are not going to be tolerated. Legislating the extremes of loot boxes is a viable step in the right direction. Providing additional warnings before purchases, requiring publishers to note what exactly is in each loot box, things like that. But preventing someone from making a purchase of a game is not going to fly in the U.S. That hits on first amendment rights.

But Lee is going to persist. He's offered invitations to several gaming publishers for their perspective on the issue but has not received a response. The ESA is still standing behind loot boxes not being gambling. Lee however sees families and children as victims here. The urge to be the best in a game, the temptation to buy loot boxes to gain an advantage can sometimes be too much. Whether you are 8, 18, 28, or 58, it can be difficult to ignore the need for loot boxes if you haven't instilled discipline in yourself to resist.

There is some give and take with this situation. Kids and parents need to be taught self control. Parents need to set limits for their kids on what is acceptable gaming practices, including if they are allowed to buy loot boxes or not. Parents also need to be involved in their children's gaming habits. Just like with school and sports, parents need to participate in the games their child plays. It'll help prevent a major blow-out when you get your next cell phone bill.

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