The Effects of Loot Boxes on Mental Health

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Brandon Lee Ramirez / El Paisano Media

The study found the motivations for purchase vary.

Background

The recent study done for the UK House Of Lords went over the harms of gaming loot boxes. The effects of loot boxes are both psychological and monetary. The results showed a disproportionate amount of spending on loot boxes from a small percentage of purchasers. It noted that in the dataset from the study that 5% of players generate more than half of industry revenue.

The Effects

However, the data does not show that the highest spenders are the highest earners. There is no evidence that higher earners are the top purchasers. The study suggests that game developers are at fault for creating addictive systems of encouragement. The study points out “ games developers, unwittingly or not, appear to be generating outsized loot box profits from at-risk individuals (these are likely to include both people with gambling problems or problematic patterns of video gaming) – but not from wealthy gamers.” Essentially, this means that some players are struggling with gambling addiction with regards to loot boxes. The data suggests that these players can’t help spending. And with certain markets allowing them to cash out, this is particularly concerning legally. Still, the data is far from much of the sensationalized media surrounding the topic. 

Problem Gamers

Linking back to our previous article, the data on spenders also tells us about what might motivate them. The study found that “associations between loot box purchasing and problem video gaming are, on aggregate, larger than associations with problem gambling. It is therefore possible that a similar proportion of high spenders might also be classified as people who have problems with their video gaming. The data suggests a complex relationship between loot boxes and their effects on a player’s mental health, stating “ preliminary evidence has linked loot box engagement with higher levels of psychological distress, albeit a finding that is indirect or of a small magnitude”. The study goes on to say loot box engagement is related to “both positive and negative moods.” 

 

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