The Danish Gambling Authority and the Danish Center for Social Science Research (VIVE) publish research project on video gaming and gambling among children and young people in Denmark
The research project is part of the political agreement “Agreement on new measures to combat compulsive gambling and adjustment of gambling agreement” of June 2018. The project examines the significance of gambling-related elements in online video games, among other things, from the perspective of children and young people.
Although most of the participants in the project do not believe that they have a problematic relation to gambling-related elements and microtransactions, VIVE assesses that there are several signs of danger, and that especially parents should get involved in their children’s online activities.
In the project, VIVE has interviewed 107 children and young people between the ages 10-19, as well as five young adults at ages 20-25, who have experienced serious issues with video gaming and/or gambling.
The entire report is available for download via the link (only in Danish), as well as an abstract in English, but the following excerpts some of the most important points:
Video gaming is a social activity but may challenge everyday life
The participants in the survey stress that video gaming means a lot to their individual well-being and social communities and to some degree to their learning and education.
However, the project also shows that video gaming challenges parts of the gamers’ everyday lives. More than half of the interviewed persons have experienced that the many hours, amount of energy and money that many children and young people spend on video gaming has caused them to give education and family life a low priority.
Gambling-related elements are comparable to online gambling
A great deal of the online video games played today includes options of spending money in-game and very often, the items that can be bought in the games are connected with chance resembling gambling.
The survey shows that gambling-related elements and skin betting (use of virtual items as a stake in gambling outside the video game) are comparable to online gambling and that both children and young people often find purchase of gambling-related elements in video games exciting. On the other hand, the survey shows that a minority of the participating children and young people have made acquaintance with microtransactions in a way they themselves find problematic.
It is too easy to spend a lot of money on micro transactions
VIVE assesses that there are potential danger signs in connection with gambling-related elements’ presence in video games. For example, there are several influencers with young followers, who indirectly market gambling-related microtransactions. In addition, microtransactions are often designed in a way that removes focus from the payment and spending itself.
It may be especially problematic for children who have not yet developed a critical sense enabling them to understand that it is real money that is spent when you quickly make a purchase in a game with a few clicks on a mouse or a console.
For the older group of participants, gambling-related elements in video games may have an independent social value, especially when young men meet and make microtransactions together. A certain group dynamic arises at the risk of making them feel pressured into spending more money than planned on microtransactions.
Parents should get involved in children’s online activities
The survey encourages parents to take part of the responsibility for the children’s online activities. It is recommended that children, young people and adults continue to establish positive communities around video gaming, but VIVE advises parents to set a reasonable framework for their children’s use of microtransactions.
It is also emphasised that it is almost impossible to avoid the gaming industry’s easily available microtransactions and gambling-related elements in video games. Thus, the survey recommends that the gaming industry’s business models in relation to the spread of microtransactions and gambling-related elements is examined further.
Rapporten er udarbejdet af VIVE for Spillemyndigheden og udgivet den 11. november 2021. Den beskriver børn og unges forhold til gaming og gambling.
An abstract with the primary conclusions of a research project by the Danish Center for Social Science (VIVE) for The Danish Gambling Authority