Getting a handle on unhealthy habits is a challenge. Whether that be gambling or something else, having access to tools that aid in achieving the right balance can be very helpful. Such tools are something gambling sites have implemented for a while, but could self-exclusion be added to video games in a similar way?
What is Self-Exclusion by UKGC?
The UKGC is working to ensure that gambling is implemented in a fair and safe way, with loot boxes being their primary source of concern in video games. In 2016, they “identified loot boxes as a potential risk to children and young people as part of a wider review on our concerns around video games and gambling themes.”
Their aim is to regulate in-game loot boxes to decide whether they fall under gambling or not, as well as ensure players remain safe.
GamStop is a system you can sign up for to regulate your own gambling habits. It allows you to stop the use of any gambling sites registered in the UK for a period of time of your choosing.
Rather than relying on the somewhat flimsy features of gambling sites themselves, signing up to GamStop will lock you out of everything for six months, one year, or five years, depending on the option you choose. It can’t be broken mid-term, nor can the restrictions be changed, so it’s a choice you’d need to consider carefully.
Is GamStop’s self-exclusion feature something that could work in video games, for both in-game spending and general gaming time?
Pros and Cons of GamStop Self-Exclusion for Gamers
There are a few reasons why such an implementation may be positive for some people, even beyond the use of loot boxes.
GamStop’s self-exclusion could have gamers maintain control over their gaming habits. If the amount of time someone is spending playing games is becoming unwieldy, stopping them all may be useful.
For younger gamers, utilising self-exclusion could potentially help maintain academic performance at vital times. Choosing from GamStop’s time period options allows you to limit use at the best times.
Also a positive for younger gamers, implementation of self-exclusion could also reduce exposure to potentially harmful content. It’s not always easy to know what gamers will encounter or hear, particularly in online games.
However, there are also cons to implementing GamStop’s self-exclusion feature in video games.
First of all, it simply doesn't address the root causes of excessive gaming, which could be different for everyone.
Also, there will be issues from a technical standpoint. GamStop may find it difficult to implement the feature into games, since they’re all built differently and by different teams. Having to do each one individually would be tough. There are casinos not on GamStop, so it would be a similar case for video games.
The same version of games being used across the world may also cause issues.
Finally, it is impossible to reverse self-exclusion prematurely if you change your mind or only want to limit use for a short period of time. That makes the decision to use it a serious one that could easily be regretted at a later date.
Therefore, there are pros and cons to using GamStop’s self-exclusion feature in video games. While it could be useful for some people who want a hard stop on their use, the lack of flexibility and potential issues for implementation mean it won’t be the best solution for everyone.