The Australia Institute’s Centre for Responsible Technology has called for an extension in the way computer games are classified, to capture design architecture that exposes children to addictive, gambling-based content in many common games.
In a submission to the Department of Communications review into the classification system, the Centre for Responsible Technology argues that the spread of ‘addiction by design’ in many games means children risk being groomed to become the problem gamblers of the future.
Currently, the classification of games follows the ratings of film and TV in confining itself to the content in the game, for example, the presence of violence, sex, language drug use and nudity.
But a growing body of evidence, included in the discussion paper ‘Gambling on Games’ (attached) supporting the CRT submission, shows that video game architecture – including in-game purchases and ways to accumulate virtual currency – should also be considered in judging a game’s age-appropriateness.
Director of the Centre for Responsible Technology Peter Lewis said the classification review was an opportunity to rethink the standard of care that should be provided to children.
The Centre’s submission calls for the current system of classifications to be updated to include:
• Guidelines on how in-game gambling architecture (especially those with “incentives and rewards”) should affect a game’s classification.
• An R18+ rating for games that replicate the psychological elements of gambling, for example through the use of randomised loot boxes bought with real money.
• An R18+ rating for games that feature real-world gambling branding or cross-promotions.
Additionally, the Centre for Responsible Technology recommends:
• Strong penalties for game developers who do not report, or falsely report, the use of gambling architecture in their games.
• A broader remit for state-based gambling regulators to monitor the gaming sector.
• Better education for parents, teachers and children about the way games are designed to be addictive.
For more research by the Australia Institute’s Centre for Responsible Technology, visit: www.centreforresponsibletechnology.com
[Originally aired on ABC News with Ros Childs, 10 February 2020]