Games introduce children to principles of gambling

Share
Related Topics

Playing games such as Farmville or poker via social networking sites has become commonplace. Bingo Friendzy is likely to be followed by other gambling games. I was one of many who voiced concerns when it launched. My main concern was that the game features cartoon characters similar to Moshi Monsters (a favourite of my youngest son). I don't believe gambling games should feature anything that might encourage children or adolescents to gamble. Although players have to be 18 to play Bingo Friendzy, research has shown that adolescents bypass minimum age limits for Facebook by giving false information.

Many games played on social networking sites have gambling elements. Even if money is not involved, they introduce children to the principles of gambling. Research shows that players can become excited even if playing with virtual money. Social networking sites have the potential to normalise gambling behaviours. Teenagers are learning the mechanics of gambling.

Other research has demonstrated that one of the risk factors for problem gambling among adolescents was "play for free" games on the internet.

Observers have accused companies such as Zynga of exploiting psychological principles to bring in new players from a demographic who may never have played games before.

However, that alone does not explain the success of Zynga games. Other features, such as appealing characters and graphics, and (what some might deem) aggressive viral marketing tactics, also appear to play a part.

The introduction of in-game virtual goods and accessories (that people pay real money for) was a psychological masterstroke. In this sense, it becomes more akin to gambling, as social gamers know that they are spending money as they play with little or no financial return. The question I am constantly asked is why people pay real money for virtual items in games like Farmville. I have studied slot-machine players for over 25 years, and the similarities are striking.

Many hard-core slots players know they will lose every penny – they are playing with money rather than for it. To me, this appears to be what social gamers do too. Like slots players, they love the game itself. So, allowing those who play social games the chance to get their money back (or more) is why companies operating social games want to get into pure gambling. This extra dimension to social games could be a huge revenue generator.

Dr Mark D Griffiths is professor of gambling studies and director of the International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Accounts Assistant, Hammersmith

£25000 per annum: Charter Selection: Exciting sports company with a strong bra...

Financial Accountant-IFRS-Gloucester-£300/day

£250 - £295 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Financial Accountant - IFRS - Glouc...

Technical Support Engineer - Central London - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Support Engineer - Central London...

SharePoint/C# Developer - Aberdeen - Circa £40K + benefits

£30000 - £40000 per annum + excellent benefits: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited:...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

This is why I am among the thousands leaving teaching today

Chris Sloggett
 

The daily catch-up: Neigh-Drama Obama, changing welfare and how to tell if you are a journalist

John Rentoul
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
10 best girls' summer dresses

Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

Westminster’s dark secret

Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

Naked censorship?

The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil