My pet peeve might be your opinion on "gambling mechanics"...

First of all, I'm completely against actual gambling in games (see paid lootboxes), but I see journalists and just random gamers frequently firing off against things like "gambling mechanics" in games all the time. Here are three scenarios in actual games that have triggered them.

1) Vermintide 2: At the end of missions you are rewarded with a free chest that will have three prizes in it that you get to keep. You don't have to pay anything, not even in-game currency. Just click on the chest to open it.

2) Car Mechanic Sim: After doing a story mission, you have a 40 percent chance to get a free crate. The crate is 100 percent free. Just open it and take your stuff.

3) Forza Horizon: When you complete certain tasks, you get a free wheel spin. You hit the button, it spins, you get whatever it lands on. 100 percent free.


In order to qualify as gambling, you'd have to pay something of your own for these chances at prizes, even if it were just a bit of the in-game currency. But in these three instances, you don't even do that, so there's no way to call it gambling. It's more like opening Christmas presents. And yet I see gamers and journalists (see today's article on PCG about Forza H 5) wringing their hands over it. What it comes down to is that they don't even understand what they are fighting against. They just got caught up in the "loot boxes are gambling" movement, but they didn't really think it through. Just because there is an element of chance doesn't mean that it's gambling.

*steps down from soapbox*
 
I've always felt like a part of the distaste for these mechanics in games is the way they expose our susceptibility to operant conditioning, that we don't like to think of ourselves as rats in Skinner boxes but ultimately can't deny the dopamine rush we get from seeing a goblin pop into a fireworks display of loot and the accompanying numeric increases to XP etc.

These free loot boxes are really just a pared down version of the interactions we're having with most games, most of the time. You take an action, the game rewards you, you feel prompted to take the next action, the reward increases. Probably a simplistic view but I think it holds some water.

I've never really had a problem with loot box mechanics, but I'm an inveterate cheapskate and therefore largely immune to the lure of paid rewards. I'm just never that invested really, and happy to get my own enjoyment out of whatever the game presents me up front.
 
"Forza Horizon is really a Far Cry game at heart "
Huh, who knew? Guess I'll be smashing cactus—aka smactus!—at some point in my future.

But I digress, again. I completely agree with your post—if you don't invest something of value, beyond a smidgen of time, it's not gambling. The Forza example is just like exploring a world in many games—your trip somewhere nets you a sooper-dooper something, my trip elsewhere gets me a moth-eaten cap.
 
I've always felt like a part of the distaste for these mechanics in games is the way they expose our susceptibility to operant conditioning, that we don't like to think of ourselves as rats in Skinner boxes but ultimately can't deny the dopamine rush we get from seeing a goblin pop into a fireworks display of loot and the accompanying numeric increases to XP etc.

These free loot boxes are really just a pared down version of the interactions we're having with most games, most of the time. You take an action, the game rewards you, you feel prompted to take the next action, the reward increases. Probably a simplistic view but I think it holds some water.

I don't think it's a bad idea calling out the mechanics that treat the players as rats in a Skinner box though, quite the opposite: I wish similar mechanics would be called out as well. I think it would be great if there was more awareness of how video game mechanics are designed to influence the players. I suspect it would help a lot with preventing video game addiction and maybe help people think more critically about what they're consuming and how they're influenced in general.
 
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help people think more critically about what they're consuming and how they're influenced in general
That's probably a lost cause. The majority consume based on emotion, hence why ads so heavily target those.

As far as I know, thinking is taught in schools only in 20+ countries, and I'm not aware of philosophy being taught at second level anywhere, altho some of its subfields are.

The vast majority of gamblers fall under this umbrella also, ie it's an emotional pursuit rather than one subjected to critical thought.
 
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That's probably a lost cause. The majority consume based on emotion, hence why ads so heavily target those.

As far as I know, thinking is taught in schools only in 20+ countries, and I'm not aware of philosophy being taught at second level anywhere, altho some of its subfields are.

The vast majority of gamblers fall under this umbrella also, ie it's an emotional pursuit rather than one subjected to critical thought.

Even if it only makes 1% of readers think a little bit more about how these mechanics are designed to affect them it would still be better than not writing about them at all.
 
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Random loot and loot boxes aren't the same thing, at least to me. When I hear the term "loot box" I think of something a player has to pay extra for, in real currency, to open. The reward is random, but it also costs the player addition real time money. That's gambling, you're throwing out cash on the chance to gain some great gear. In my opinion, it's not much different than playing a had of blackjack at a casino.

Worse, is when those loot box gambling scenarios are tied to a players progression in a game. A player may be "theoretically" able to advance to higher levels without them, but the chance to gain better equipment making that progression easier through paid for "loot" is just abhorrent to me.

Random loot is not the same. It exists in almost every game (although I do realize that not all loot is randomized and it really depends upon the game you're playing). By opening a chest, or killing a boss, the rewards are sometimes great, sometimes not; but it's just luck of the percentages and costs the player nothing.

I haven't played the games you've mentioned, and I've never encountered a loot box in a game I've played, but these are just my thoughts on how it relates to gambling.
 
I don't have any real issue with FREE lootboxes. I mean, i can't really complain about free stuff being offered. But that said its a taster that could get people hooked. I remember opening a couple of free loot crates in the division and the amount of pomp and excitement disturbed me - guys i'm just opening a box, not winning the lottery! i don't need people to praise me and have fireworks come out! I think it depends how many are given to the player. If its just the odd one or 2, i doubt you'll get hooked but what about 5+ lootboxes?

I think the other side of the arguement would be what you get. if its just another texture pack or rucksack skin 207 out of the hundreds i've already got, then its practically meaningless and i doubt i would get hooked. But then for example Path of exiles lootboxes with no duplicates and some seriously tasty stuff then i would relish getting free ones during the Christmas. Plus when there is some quick league to earn a lootbox by reaching level 50, i'm all over it; i postpone any game i was playing for a couple of days to get the job done. So kind of addicted in that regard.

That said, i was only addicted as i was after cosmetics for all parts of my character. So i was most eager when i was trying to get some torso armor etc. But now that the sanctum league has given me a set of armor that i'm satisfied with and collected all the pieces, i'm suitablely sated that i won't need to play the game as often.

That said, i'll still log in for my free loot box and maybe the quick leagues for more lootboxes... it certainly keeps me coming back to play. I can't be sure how other people feel. I still have enough sense not to splash out on cosmetics. Especially when you could buy an indie game for some of the ridiculous prices they're asking for.
 
I feel like the games that give you free lootboxes in the hopes you buy more of them never have anything interesting in the loot boxes. By design you're opening a ton of them during normal play, because they hope it'll get you to spend money, but most of the stuff you get is junk, since they can't give all the good stuff away for free (or cheap).

At least, that's my experience with Hearthstone, Vermintide 2 and all of the gacha style games I've tried.
 
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Hopefully dying out now that NFTs have gone in the toilet, and crypto's taken quite a hit too.
I have no love for NFTs. Looks like the crypto market, itself, is finally starting to rally again, though. I bought a little ETH at the end of the year when it was low, and it's actually starting to pump again. I wouldn't be upset if it gets back to where it was. I don't have any use for NFTs and crypto gambling games, though.
 
What about NFT and crypto games?

NFT and crypto games are a a con. In fact any game where you can make real money is a mugs game. If its too easy, everyone will be doing it so the payout will be peanuts. if you're lucky. If it was difficult to make money then few people will make money and you're just wasting your time. The other flip side is somehow the devs are just using your machine like a bot farm to make crypto and like gambling, the house will be the real winner in all of it.

The past few months we've seen how crypto and NFTs are just a fools errand as well an unregulated disaster at times. for the general public, i would avoid it and to see i don't want it anywhere near my games i play.
 
NFT and crypto games are a a con. In fact any game where you can make real money is a mugs game. If its too easy, everyone will be doing it so the payout will be peanuts. if you're lucky. If it was difficult to make money then few people will make money and you're just wasting your time. The other flip side is somehow the devs are just using your machine like a bot farm to make crypto and like gambling, the house will be the real winner in all of it.

The past few months we've seen how crypto and NFTs are just a fools errand as well an unregulated disaster at times. for the general public, i would avoid it and to see i don't want it anywhere near my games i play.
I spent most of 2021 heavily into crypto, and I saw first hand what a Wild West it is. Pretty much all of what they call sh**coins is basically a Ponzi scheme, including most of the tokens that say they're not sh**coins. They bring people in, hype them up to get them to buy, then by the time those people wise up and realize they were scammed, there is a new group of people coming in to be hyped. It's a constant cycle of promises that never get fulfilled.

Having said that, even though I would stay away from most of the "tokens," I think Bitcoin and Ethereum can still be a good investment if you play it right.