Video games popular among kids would be prohibited from offering “loot boxes” or randomized assortments of digital weapons, clothing and other items that can be purchased for a fee, under federal legislation to be introduced by Republican Sen. Josh Hawley (Mo.).
Hawley’s proposed bill, outlined Wednesday, covers games explicitly targeted to players under age 18 as well as those for broader audiences where developers are aware that kids are making in-game purchases. Along with outlawing loot boxes, these video games also would be banned from offering “pay to win” schemes, where players must spend money to access additional content or gain digital advantages over rival players.
Loot boxes, which can be bought or offered as rewards for achieving certain goals within a game, also have come under fire over concerns that they encourage addictive behavior, especially by children. Like slot machines, loot boxes offer visual stimulation — often through an explosion of colors and other animated action — along with what psychologists call “variable rewards,” meaning outcomes that are better or worse depending on seemingly random factors.
States, including California and Washington, have considered their own legislation in recent years, though none of the proposals has become law. In the nation’s capital, FTC Chairman Joe Simons in November committed the agency to looking into “loot boxes,” though he later declined to detail in a letter to Congress if the commission had opened any investigations targeting specific video games or their practices.
The agency would play a key enforcement role if Hawley’s bill is enacted, along with state attorneys general, who would gain the ability to bring lawsuits against video game makers. The proposal gained early support Wednesday from groups that advocate on behalf of parents.
“Tricking kids into spending money while they play games is unacceptable and should be illegal,” said Jim Steyer, chief executive of Common Sense Media.
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Rgiht, cause their parents are totally being "tricked" into entering their credit card numbers into the game.
You know, when my son manages to talk me into shelling out another 25 bucks for yet another playstation card (because no I am not going to enter a credit card number into any of those games thanks very much), I am quite aware that it is a pretty dumb decision, that there are plenty of other dumb things I could be doing with this money, even for him, let alone telling him no and just spending it on dumb things for myself. But at least it is my dumb decision, I am the one making it, and neither of us is being "tricked" in any honest sense of the word. And I'm certainly not asking other people to spend their money on helping to stop me from spending money on yet another dumb fortnite skin or whathaveyou.
But now in addition to me occasionally caving and spending some of my money on something dumb for my son, every April 15 I will need to hand over some more of my money to Hawley and his ilk so that other people can (allegedly) be helped not to spend their money on stuff they themselves already know is dumb.
Thanks so much Senator Hawley for being so willing to commit my resources to a cause you claim to feel so strongly about. (And a cheerful f*** you to not-even-government sycophants like Steyer who enable the process.) Like Zed said in MiB, "you're everything we've come to expect from years of government training."
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