By CCN.com: Addiction is a variation of passion—one which impairs general life functions. Addicts are commonly willing to sacrifice basic needs or core obligations to sate their hunger for the next fix.
As a recovering gaming addict, I find it troubling that, despite gaming addiction having been both a factor in my own development and recently added to the ICM and DSM, two diagnostic manuals for mental health conditions, EA’s Kerry Hopkins has publicly stated:
I don’t think we can agree to say that games are addictive, I would tell you that Electronic Arts already is a very responsible company.
Most ICOs weren’t selling securities either, right? Just ask the SEC for their opinion.
Despite the controversy surrounding the relationship between gambling and loot boxes, EA is helping to drive these microtransactions and addictive mechanisms even further into the minds of gamers. Gaming is, at its most base level, intended to draw out passion and addictive tendencies. I love gaming and believe it is a good thing, but gaming, is commonly exploited to make more money.
According to experts, such as Robert West, editor-in-chief for Addiction, most anything can become addictive to the right person, though not commonly physically addictive:
“In most cases, it’s not the physiological [dependence] that’s causing the problem, because you can quite easily get people over that” — through, say, supervised detoxification. “It’s a behavioral problem. Where the problem lies is that certain drugs and behaviors in certain people lead to such powerful motivation to engage in the behavior that it’s damaging or could be damaging.”
Gaming addiction and high levels of involvement with gaming are not synonymous. A primary hobby which is carried out without causing issues in daily life is simply a hobby or passion. Addiction is a consideration when someone is willing to face negative consequences to do it and loses voluntary control over it.
Loot boxes, according to Hopkins, are “quite ethical.” Several nations have outlawed loot boxes for similarity to lottery-style gambling and failures by game companies to cite the drop rates for loot box items. Multiple countries are working to decide the fate of loot boxes, though many may suffer if they are deemed gambling—minors may not be allowed to participate in loot box gambling but can account for substantial amounts of cash flow.
Regardless of terminology, loot boxes are an addictive addition to gaming. This is displayed by their wild popularity on social media and video sharing platforms. At the end of the day, EA’s surprise mechanic is another way to say, “give us your money”, just like loot box is.