Games News

US Senator calls on ESRB to mark loot box games, claims they cause addiction in children

Blizzard
The standard loot box in Overwatch
Overwatch - Loot Box

United States senator Maggie Hassan has sent a letter and met with the Entertainment Systems Ratings Board and the Federal Trade Commission, respectively, in an attempt to address the issue that, in her words, leads to children being addicted and more susceptible to addiction.

The letter states that if ESRB doesn't tackle the issue, the entire thing could end up in government hands. You know, the type of hands you *don't* want on your games. Hassan wants ESRB to review its stance on loot boxes on ethical grounds and if nothing else, make sure that any games using them are clearly marked.

AltCharThe standard loot box in OverwatchLoot + Box = Loot box.

To be fair, the letter acknowledges ESRB's effectiveness and values. However, Hassan argues that they must find ways to keep up with modern gaming trends, which loot boxes most certainly are.

Interestingly enough, Hassan reminded that the World Health Organisation recognises 'gaming disorder' as a genuine disorder. The letter goes as far as to lump gambling and loot boxes into the same category, seeing as how they're both "expensive habits and use similar psychological principles".

While this would most certainly address one part of the problem, Hassan is worried that the seemingly innocuous nature of loot boxes helps the problem not being taken seriously enough. While it is too easy to laugh it away with a what-about-the-children joke, the issue of child addiction is never funny. Well, except in South Park.

The entire lootboxgate fiasco seems to be getting too hot to handle by ratings boards though, and Hawaii, Sweden and Germany to name but a few, seem to agree. With more and more countries, agencies and government bodies rushing to have their say on loot boxes, it may be wiser for developers to just remove the darn things before the suits regulate them out of existence.