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Towards an Ethical Game Design Solution to Loot Boxes: a Commentary on King and Delfabbro

Xiao, L. Y. & Henderson, L. L. (2019). Towards an Ethical Game Design Solution to Loot Boxes: a Commentary on King and Delfabbro. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, doi: 10.1007/s11469-019-00164-4


King and Delfabbro (2019b) proposed the adoption of social responsibility measures to combat predatory monetisation in video games, such as loot boxes. This paper rectifies a game example mistakenly used by King and Delfabbro and provides further game examples to illustrate, critique and extend the proposed measures. This paper argues that the proposed measures are unlikely to be widely adopted by the video game industry, given the industry’s economic interests in the continued unhindered implementation of predatory monetisation, their preference for continued ‘self-regulation’ and their past resistance against potential regulation. With reference to South Korean law, this paper explores the possibility of codifying and enforcing the proposed measures as law and argues that overly paternalistic regulations are insensible and impractical. This paper recommends the use of regulatory nudging to encourage video game companies through incentives, such as discretionary grants and tax relief schemes, to adopt the proposed social responsibility measures and develop towards an ethical game design framework.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Publisher Keywords: Loot boxes, Predatory monetisation, Microtransactions, Ethical game design, Addictive game design, Video game regulation
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
Departments: The City Law School > Professional Programmes
Text - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution International Public License 4.0.

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