Online Gaming – India Needs Better Regulation To Distinguish Gaming From Online Gambling

Gamers under the age of 18 in China are no longer permitted to play video games between 10 pm to 8 am. Beijing has passed new laws aimed at cutting down on video game addiction among minors. During weekdays and holidays, gamers can only play for 90 minutes. As part of the rules, the Chinese government dictated that a person could only spend 200 yuan a month.

Minors in countries like South Korea and Japan are similarly protected by laws that log them out of online games at particular times or give them warnings.

Online Gaming

Politicians and governments have always scrutinized video games for the perceived harm they cause. FPS games and shooter games have been made scapegoats following school shootings for allegedly corrupting and desensitizing the next generation to graphic acts of violence through virtual reality. The video game industry was hauled up during its infancy in the early 1990s when Congressional hearings were held heaving with the accusation of depictions of graphic violence in reality-based video games and exposing kids to them.

Exclusive: Karnataka online gambling bill even outlaws games of skill

Concerns about video games’ corrupting influence are often raised by politicians. Even so, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced children inside, which means they are spending more time playing video games. Concerned parents wish they could do something to curb excessive screen time and violent video games. China may be tempted to follow in the legislative footsteps of the United States and enact similar bans, but maybe the wiser approach is to pausing and attempting to understand the real issues that are plaguing video game developers.

Do Children Require Protection?

Several problems confronting the video game industry require regulation, but moralistic narratives for protecting children from harmful content may not necessarily be the most effective means of framing rules. There is no doubt that video games have long been elevated to art forms, at least as far as expressing complex emotions and concepts as video, audio, text, or comics. Video game companies must maintain a fine line between making sure their game is interesting enough and making sure it is not so boring that it causes users to give up on it. This can be challenging for game companies.

It’s not just video games that struggle with capturing their users’ attention. In print and digital media, as well as in television and radio programs, films, social media, and podcasts. Creating attention-getting campaigns is a concern. The unintended consequence of social media companies tweaking their algorithms to bring up old posts again is a collection of outdated information that turns into misinformation since the context is obfuscated.

Karnataka cabinet decides to ban online gambling | Bengaluru News - Times  of India

Game developers control the virtual environment in which players play, allowing them to increase the monetization opportunities exponentially. Media companies like movies, television, music, and print have far less revenue than the video game industry. As a whole, video games have been struggling to find a direction. It is viewed as a service by game developers and publishers, and they constantly add new features and have gamers pay for them, so the IP of the game goes on for longer. It appears that players are unhappy with the overly monetizing of video games with microtransactions, which have real-world consequences for minors.

Children aged 10-16 were interviewed regarding video game monetization options in a 2019 report from the UK’s Children’s Commissioner. Their responses showed that video game players display complex social behaviors. The respondents agreed that video games help them make friends and network beyond their age group. It poses a downside, however, as players face heavy peer pressure to buy in-game items to fit in. The pressure to buy new items is also increased by video game streamers.

The report also pointed out the issues with loot boxes, describing them as gambling in the sense that players are given random items and encouraged to ‘try again’ with another purchase. A few countries, such as Japan and Belgium, have banned in-game purchases. Loot boxes are required to have more transparency in China, which requires operators to reveal all rewards and their likelihood of being claimed. Loot box mechanics in video games need a license in the Netherlands. While the UK is currently debating a law regarding video game microtransactions, US senator Josh Hawley has stated he intends to introduce legislation banning pay-to-win and loot box transactions.

Tactics Companies Use To Capture Attention

Despite this, the Indian startup ecosystem has chosen to dismiss all pretenses of building a casino game with some gambling elements and has instead decided to create gambling-focused games, utilizing a court judgment as a regulatory arbitrage point. On the federal level, Indian gambling is outlawed, but individual states may permit certain types of gambling. The courts, however, have ruled generally that “games of skill” such as poker and fantasy sports, are not “games of chance” such as roulette, slot machines, and raffles.

The most popular casino games in the world – Film Daily

This regulatory arbitrage is also used in online poker. Since these companies operate in an uncertain regulatory environment, their apps are not allowed at app marketplaces like the iOS and Google Play stores because of their prohibition of gambling apps. Yet these apps can bypass app store rules and policies by being easily downloaded onto phones. Despite this, it has been observed that real-world gaming has been attracting investors due to its ability to deliver higher revenue and profits than other endeavors.

The revenue of Dream11 for FY2020 was Rs 180 crore. Nasara Games recently went public on the stock market and boasted of India’s gaming potential in an announcement. Gamers in the Indian ecosystem lack an imaginative way to tell amazing stories through gaming. As a result, Nazara Games is unable to tell grand stories like those featured in franchises. It is mostly a sponsor of esports events, offers freemium games, and provides “real-world gaming experiences.”.

Indian startups are thus blurring the line between gambling and gaming by focusing on maximizing revenue instead of developing properties for fun. There is an ongoing controversy about whether “real-world gaming” apps are games of skill or games of chance. Whatever name a country decides to adopt, gambling causes significant harm to its social fabric. Whatever picks a player makes, their performance in real-life ultimately determines whether fantasy sports will be a success or a failure.

Generally, most people believe poker to be a game of skill since the skill involves players to bluff and call bluffs, but do these distinctions apply to an online variant, since players cannot read cues as they can in an offline game? New regulatory lenses are needed for courts and regulators. Maybe the best test to determine if a game is gambling is to find out if “the house always wins.” Several states, such as Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu have banned online gambling and these types of games, and others, like Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, are thinking about the new legislation.

Electronic Arts (EA) is on the list for Andhra Pradesh. This shows that the governments of states are failing to make a distinct distinction between online games, which often contain elements similar to gambling, and the world of “real” gaming, and online gambling apps. A lot of complexity is needed in understanding these new ways of capturing user attention and monetizing it with in-game currency and resources. To ensure the safety of these players under the age of 18, we must understand how these monetization systems impact them. I think it’s time to stop passing off online gambling as gaming and call it what it is.

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A video game is an immersive narrative experience that utilizes multiple disciplines to imbue players with an engaging story. The role of video games has been huge in advancing computing, and while many studios have risen and fallen, they have never shied away from pushing the boundaries of what was possible, and have had several supporters. It is ironic that Indian venture capitalists, who can pour millions of dollars into real-world gaming to allow users to test their luck, are not willing to bet on Indian gaming studios to compete with Bioware, id Software, and Valve for instance.

Nandana Valsan

Nandana Valsan is a Journalist/Writer by profession and an 'India Book of Records holder from Kochi, Kerala. She is pursuing MBA and specializes in Journalism and Mass Communication. She’s best known for News Writings for both small and large Web News Media, Online Publications, Freelance writing, and so on. ‘True Love: A Fantasy Bond’ is her first published write-up as a co-author and 'Paradesi Synagogue: History, Tradition & Antiquity' is her second successful write-up in a book as a co-author in the National Record Anthology. She has won Millenia 15 Most Deserving Youth Award 2022 in the category of Writer. A lot of milestones are waiting for her to achieve. Being a Writer, her passion for helping readers in all aspects of today's digital era flows through in the expert industry coverage she provides.

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