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DR. AARON DRUMMOND

Dr. Aaron Drummond is a cognitive cyberpsychologist with a keen interest in the psychological antecedents and consequences of digital media and technology use. Aaron’s research is concerned with issues such as the psychological effects of digital media use on aggression, mental health, academic performance, and cognition.

 

Most recently, Aaron has published in the leading journals "Nature Human Behaviour" and "Addiction" on the issue of loot boxes and gambling related mechanisms in video games. He has contributed oral and written testimony to Governments on the subject of loot boxes in Aotearoa New Zealand, Australia, the UK and the USA. He is currently completing work on a Marsden Fast Start Grant investigating the consequences of engaging with loot box mechanisms in video games.

Abstract: Gambling-related mechanisms in Video Games: Potential for harm, and mitigating strategies.

Video games are an increasingly popular pastime in industrialised nations. Recently, concerns have arisen that some features in videos games may be psychologically similar to conventional forms of gambling. One prevalent gambling-like mechanism attracting particular scrutiny is the Loot Box; a randomised reward available in some video games which is often purchasable for real-world money. The variable-ratio reinforcement schedules and other structural characteristics of loot boxes appear to make them psychologically, and possibly even legally similar to conventional forms of gambling.

 

In this presentation, I will summarise the psychological and legal similarities between loot boxes and conventional forms of gambling. I will then provide a summary of the current research emerging from our laboratory and a number of international laboratories about the potential for loot boxes to cause psychological and financial harm, particularly for vulnerable users such as adolescents and those with Problem Gambling Disorder. Finally, I will conclude by examining the current public policy and industry led responses to loot boxes, and which (if any) are likely to be effective strategies to safeguard potentially vulnerable gamers.