Request the ESRB Comply With Including Gambling-Type Activities in Video Game Ratings

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Many video game companies have recently started adding functions to their games which allow players to "buy" in-game rewards, which are unknown to the recipient, in exchange for real legal currency.  Once the player has paid the money for the item (generically referred to as a 'loot box') the rewards are revealed to them.  Often, the rewards are not what the player wanted or worth the price that would have been paid to purchase the item outright (though this option is not usually available).

This is gambling, pure and simple.  The problem here is that the ESRB has recently stated they will not consider the purchase of unknown reward "loot boxes" as either simulated or real gambling, and thus these games can often receive ratings which allow psychologically underdeveloped children to access them.  The ESRB has used the following reasoning to explain why they do not feel it is gambling, "A player always receives *something* when they open the loot boxes, and when gambling you do not always receive something". 

Many people feel the ESRB's argument is faulty because the definition of wagering, according to US code is such:

31 U.S. Code § 5362

(A) means the staking or risking by any person of something of value upon the outcome of a contest of others, a sporting event, or a game subject to chance, upon an agreement or understanding that the person or another person will receive something of value in the event of a certain outcome;

Wagering real money for some unknown prize.  The issue at hand here is accessibility.  By refusing to classify these video games as including activities which simulate the exchange of currency for unknown chances of winning a certain prize, the ESRB is actively telling parents that the games are safe for their children.  These children are then exposed to techniques and activities which have been *specifically designed* to activate the brain's addiction centers with activities that they should not have access to until they are more developed.  The problem is that the ESRB is shirking its responsibility of informing parents about what is actually in the video games.  If we want to continue to look at the ESRB as an organization we can trust to *accurately* rate the activities that take place in games, this needs to be changed.



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