Video games. How the European Parliament wants to protect young players

Video games represent, for the European Union alone, 23.3 billion euros in turnover in 2020: this industry has never been in better shape thanks, among other things, to the successive imprisonment caused of Covid-19. One in two Europeans between the ages of six and 64 play it. And 90,000 jobs are directly linked to it, according to the European Parliament.

Impact on mental health

However, the representatives want, without neglecting this economic importance, to protect the youngest players from certain abuses. In a report adopted on Wednesday 18 January, they underlined the positive aspects of this pioneering industry, explained the Social Democrat rapporteur Adriana Maldonado López, but also the social dangers we must remember, such as the impact of video games on mental health .

The text specifically refers to the issue of fighting addiction, which can have effects on school results, health or even social relationships.

Also read. Parents are taking Fortnite to court, claiming the video game is making their children addicted

Loot Box Addiction

In particular, MEPs called on the European Commission to regulate or ban ‘loot boxes’ (in English, loot boxes). Accessible after payment in real or virtual currency, these virtual boxes contain accessories that allow you to progress in the game. But before opening them, players don’t know exactly what they contain and that’s what makes them so attractive. Because of the random reward mechanics, loot boxes are very similar to games of chance. Some may advocate a switch to gambling, warns a study by the research service of the European Parliament. Aware of these risks, Belgium banned them in 2018.

Also read. INTERVIEW. “Video games are an issue of sovereignty for Europe”

The dangers of “golden harvests”

Other risks were identified: the principle of “pay to win” that favors players who pay to progress in the game, or “gold farming” that consists in the resale of virtual money, items or entire user accounts, at the opportunity it’s for real money. The financial stakes are such that this latter practice will encourage money laundering and forced labor. The Guardian as recently as 2011 it was shown how Chinese prisoners were exploited to contribute to it.

Also read. TESTIMONIALS. “We didn’t do anything else”: they spend sleepless nights in front of video games

Classification of Europe

For better protection of minors, MEPs proposed the generalization of the PEGI (Pan European Game Information) system which classifies games on a European scale according to the appropriate age categories, warning of the presence of violent content, allows ‘installation of parental controls…

Women between underrepresentation and hypersexualization

Another regulatory issue: the fight against the lack of representation of women, sexual harassment and the hypersexualization of characters (a video game even glorified rape). Regulating this sector in this direction will stop these practices, online and offline.asserted MP Anne-Sophie Pelletier (LFI, La Gauche).

The ball is now in the Commission’s court to propose a European strategy.

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