Institute of Art Design + Technology
Dún Laoghaire

Eamonn Cooke 

BSc [Hons] Applied Psychology

My name is Eamonn Cooke. I am 24 years old, from County Wicklow. Having chosen the tech path option in the second year of my studies, I decided to conduct a rapid structured literature review into how gambling is promoted to minors through video games, the problems it causes, and potential solutions. I have always had an interest into how gambling and other addiction disorders could be cultivated in minors, and the tech path provided me with the perfect opportunity to learn about this from a modern day perspective, with the use of online and other kinds of technologies.

Project Description

The project I conducted was a rapid structured literature review (RSLR) looking at how gambling is promoted to minor through the presence of gambling mechanics such as loot boxes.
One of my main motivations in conducting this research was the recent lawsuit taken by the Netherlands against EA regarding the presence of gambling mechanics in their FIFA franchise, that EA ultimately won despite a strong case put forward by the Netherlands.
I Chose to conduct a rapid structured literature review because while there is a lot of research already in this field, the motivations behind the research seemed scattered and uncoordinated, all coming to similar conclusions but not in conjunction with one another.

Project Objectives and Outcomes

The major goal of this RSLR was to streamline the research findings and attempt to redirect researchers towards the common goals of reducing gambling disorder-related harm in minors, working towards early interventions and preventative measures in minors with problematic gambling tendencies, and suggestions for legal and legislative responses governments can make in order to combat video game publishers including gambling mechanics in video games marketed towards children.

Using very specific search parameters on EBSCO Databases, the number of suitable papers started at 69, and was whittled down to 12. The first screening process began with the screening of the abstracts of all 69 papers using specific codes. The papers that were left after this were all screened and coded in their entirety until the final 12 were left to compare and contrast. These five codes were highly prevalent in these papers.

The analysis of these papers helped support the link between gambling mechanics in video games and problem gambling behaviours, and that minors that engage with video games that include gambling mechanics can be more vulnerable to develop problematic gambling habits in adulthood.

A lot of these papers suggested various ways governments can introduce legislations to help prevent gambling mechanics appearing in video games, and this paper gathers and streamlines these ideas so that gambling mechanics cannot be disguised and included in games rated lower than 18+.

Thesis Title

The prevalence and dangers of gambling mechanics in the form of in-app purchases, microtransactions, and loot boxes in video games marketed towards minors: A Rapid Structured Literature Review.