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UK's top mental health nurse wants crack down on loot boxes

UK's top mental health nurse wants crack down on loot boxes

January 21, 2020 | By Chris Kerr

January 21, 2020 | By Chris Kerr
More: Design, Business/Marketing

The UK’s top mental health nurse has called for a crack down on loot boxes in video games. NHS mental health director Claire Murdoch claims the controversial monetisation method "sets kids up for addition" by effectively teaching them to gamble at a young age. 

Loot boxes, which dish out randomised rewards to players and can sometimes be purchased using real-world currency, have been heavily scrutinised in recent years, with various governing bodies around the world seeking to regulate, or in some cases outright ban, the practice.

Although some games companies have refuted the notion that look boxes constitute gambling, with EA last year suggesting the system is better described as a "surprise mechanic," Murdoch isn't convinced. 

"Frankly no company should be setting kids up for addiction by teaching them to gamble on the content of these loot boxes. No firm should sell to children loot box games with this element of chance, so yes those sales should end," she commented. 

"Young people’s health is at stake, and although the NHS is stepping up with these new, innovative services available to families through our Long Term Plan, we cannot do this alone, so other parts of society must do what they can to limit risks and safeguard children’s wellbeing."

To address the issue, Murdoch believes loot boxes should either be banned outright, or moderating via the implementation of "far and realistic" spending limits that prevent people from dropping huge amounts of cash. 

She also claims loot boxes should disclose the  percentage chance of items dropping, and that game companies should support parents by helping to educate them on the risks of in-game spending. 

You can hear more from Murdoch by visiting the NHS England website.

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