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Old 12-06-2017, 01:58 PM   #1
Emabulator
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Hawaii Legislator Chris Lee Explains His Plans For Games With Lootboxes


Game Informer has the story.

Quote:
Hawaii State Representative Chris Lee made waves a few weeks ago when he announced plans to investigate lootboxes in video games as possible gambling. Now, he has released a video explaining what exactly he plans to do.

The main thing Lee wants is to enact legislation that bans the sale of games containing what he calls "gambling mechanics" to minors. In other words, games like Battlefront II would be legally barred from being sold to people under the age of 18, a prohibition that does not even extend to Mature-rated games.

Lee clarifies that this would need to apply to both physical and digital products, which is key as the self-regulatory ESRB currently does not exercise mandatory control over digital storefronts.

The representative from Hawaii also expressed concern with timing design of lootboxes and drops, suggesting that they are designed to take advantage of people by psychologically manipulating drops. While Lee acknowledges this information isn't confirmed and is mostly based on conjecture, it is worth noting that publisher Activision has patented a method of matchmaking that encourages microtransactions.

"Once the algorithm identifies a player who's likely to keep spending money to buy that one 'unicorn thing' that they're after... then they lower the odds and then you keep spending more," Lee says. "It's absolutely unethical and unfair."

Lee wants accountability legislation to prevent game publishers from taking advantage of people using behind-the-scenes lootbox drop rate numbers. He does not explain how in the video, but presumably wants to enact something similar to China's model of presenting lootbox content rates before players can buy them.
Read on.
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Old 12-06-2017, 01:58 PM   #2
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Old 12-06-2017, 02:37 PM   #3
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He can't prove it but he thinks they find someone who spends a whole lot of money chasing something then lower the chance they'll get the good drop the more money they spend?

That's not the sort of accusation one should be making if you can't prove it.

Odds are odds and I've never heard of even the shadiest of shady companies doing such a thing. Having extremely low odds, yes but manipulating odds like that? Nope.

This guy really needs to find a different key platform issue to run on if he's trying to make it to Washington D.C. The whole "Gamez is bad for the kiddies" is sort of played out on the national scene.

He loses more DKP by not doing enough research to discover "M" means "Mature" on the ESRB and once you get past that you're in Porn land and that ESRB already has a descriptor for "Real Gambling".

I am surprised people aren't stupider just standing around this guy as he sucks the IQ from them like some sort of smartness vampire.
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Old 12-06-2017, 02:41 PM   #4
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Casinos have been caught screwing with the odds, both intentionally and unintentionally. You don't think a gaming company might do it, intentionally or otherwise? PLEASE. You should know better.

Pass the popcorn. I'm ready to watch 'progressive' gaming companies get bent over a barrel by 'progressive' politicians, lol. GO GET 'EM.
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Old 12-06-2017, 02:54 PM   #5
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Game neutrality!

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Old 12-06-2017, 03:14 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Terran View Post
Casinos have been caught screwing with the odds, both intentionally and unintentionally. You don't think a gaming company might do it, intentionally or otherwise? PLEASE. You should know better.

Pass the popcorn. I'm ready to watch 'progressive' gaming companies get bent over a barrel by 'progressive' politicians, lol. GO GET 'EM.
I have no doubt odds can be manipulated. The part of the statement I have problems with is where this asshat suggests game code is profiling a player in real time and dynamically adjusting odds based on an algorithm determining if the player has certain psychological traits.

In a world where the big brains at Microsoft R&D put out an AI Twitterbot which got turned into a hitler loving racist NAZI in 24 hours this guy is suggesting some rando computer game programmer found a universal Pavlovian bell which adjusts, in real-time, to each unique individual, with very high success rates against gamers everywhere.

No. Don't think so. He needs to try again because he's already making himself look as loony toons as Jack Thompson.
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Old 12-06-2017, 04:17 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by vallor View Post
I have no doubt odds can be manipulated. The part of the statement I have problems with is where this asshat suggests game code is profiling a player in real time and dynamically adjusting odds based on an algorithm determining if the player has certain psychological traits.

In a world where the big brains at Microsoft R&D put out an AI Twitterbot which got turned into a hitler loving racist NAZI in 24 hours this guy is suggesting some rando computer game programmer found a universal Pavlovian bell which adjusts, in real-time, to each unique individual, with very high success rates against gamers everywhere.

No. Don't think so. He needs to try again because he's already making himself look as loony toons as Jack Thompson.
It's not just AI it's human design influence. Blizzard does it in diablo horrendously with their weighted values on legendaries and has decreased dupe drop rates in their overwatch boxes a little under half a year ago?

"He does not explain how in the video, but presumably wants to enact something similar to China's model of presenting lootbox content rates before players can buy them."

This I can get on board with.
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Old 12-06-2017, 05:58 PM   #8
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Oh look, it's a Democrat in the blue state of Hawaii that wants to control things. Shocked, I tell ya, shocked.
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Old 12-07-2017, 02:24 AM   #9
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Oh look, it's a Democrat in the blue state of Hawaii that wants to control things.
What would be your proposal to deal with a game developer exploiting a lack of transparency to lure a player into a set of behaviors beneficial to the developer and to manipulate things under the hood to extort the player?

Blame the gamer for their weakness in choosing to be a part of the enterprise?

"He does not explain how in the video, but presumably wants to enact something similar to China's model of presenting lootbox content rates before players can buy them."

I think that's all I'm asking in a situation where you pay real money for a chance at a virtual good. The loot tables should be made public. Even then, if they manipulate the odds, I'm not sure how you'd have conformance without someone audting the source code, which gets into trickier territory.

I'm wrapping up a college degree in Accounting while starting on a career as a software engineer and with over eight years in game development QA. Without oversight and auditing, people in business will pull all KINDS of shit. Just look at Bungie and Destiny 2's hidden XP manipulation debacle. A person would be naive and ridiculous to hold an expectation that developers / business managers across the board will do the right thing when there is a huge financial incentive to do otherwise.

Manipulating the odds based on a purchasing history would be a trivial algorithm to implement.
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Old 12-07-2017, 05:29 AM   #10
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This is what I do as a job so need to keep an eye on this.
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Old 12-07-2017, 12:29 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by vallor View Post
some rando computer game programmer found a universal Pavlovian bell which adjusts, in real-time, to each unique individual, with very high success rates against gamers everywhere.
It won't need to be targeted, and of course it would be in real time, its an algorithm of currently running code! And it's easy to do. As easy as: the more loot boxes are purchased by any given user, the smaller their chances are to get legendary drops that they don't already have. This effectively milks the whales while keeping them thinking everything is dandy and they're just unlucky, because they're still getting rare items, just not the ones they need.

A rando programmer wouldn't be doing this, a team would, likely at the behest of their project manager. Clearly you don't know anything about software development.
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Old 12-07-2017, 02:54 PM   #12
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It won't need to be targeted, and of course it would be in real time, its an algorithm of currently running code! And it's easy to do. As easy as: the more loot boxes are purchased by any given user, the smaller their chances are to get legendary drops that they don't already have. This effectively milks the whales while keeping them thinking everything is dandy and they're just unlucky, because they're still getting rare items, just not the ones they need.
The guy in the article is suggesting it IS targeted based on some profile the game creates and updates of each player as they play. That's my contention.

What you're suggesting the game would STILL have to be profiling and know which specific rares and whatnot the player actually wants to keep them chasing. It only works for the "collector" mentality.

It could be as easy as diminishing odds for each item based on how many have already been acquired. I've not seen anything that shady in my time playing or creating games. Thank goodness.

Of course I've never worked on an Asian game. Things tend to be more direct in those cultures than we USED to allow in Western games.
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Old 12-07-2017, 05:17 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by MavenACTG View Post
What would be your proposal to deal with a game developer exploiting a lack of transparency to lure a player into a set of behaviors beneficial to the developer and to manipulate things under the hood to extort the player?
Nothing. Don't like the game or the developers' practices? Don't buy the game. Honestly it is really that simple, why do we need government intervention in every damn thing we do?

Curious, though, would you be crying foul if it was Trump or a Republican calling for the same thing? Smaller the government the better, I don't know why that is so hard to understand.
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Old 12-07-2017, 06:12 PM   #14
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...why do we need government intervention in every damn thing we do?
The infliction of pain on people who advocate for bureaucratic, governmental intrusion into every orifice of life is one of the few ways to enlighten them as to the consequences of their ideology. Make them live by their own rules.
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Old 12-08-2017, 03:11 AM   #15
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Honestly it is really that simple
Agree to disagree. It's easy to dump on the consumer in the exchange to make better choices, but that seems to ignore that we have agencies like the FDA and SEC to help consumers of products make informed decisions by compelling that information from entities who have every incentive to manipulate the data. Marketers and accountants were really good at hiding things from consumers long before technology companies and obfuscated algorithms put Walmart next to terrorist propoganda.

Technology companies, and I am guessing here, are overall far less regulated than other companies offering the same thing in a different medium. I don't need to remind you how easily (and cheaply!) Russian propagandists were able to exert influence in the 2016 election through Facebook because of a lack of transparency and Facebook not abiding by a law that political advertisements have to display who paid for them.

However, we can both agree that too much regulation is a bad thing, but the bleed of business models into a mostly unregulated game space and the rise of lootboxes foretells some sort of regulating action by an agency like the Nevada Gaming Commission to balance public and business interests. I don't care if I throw virtual currency into a money sink designed to balance a game's economy.

Also, lol, should have just stuck with a Republican if you wanted to sniff out partisan thinking. My suspension of disbelief is shattered for any hypothetical with Trump that has him genuinely advocating in the public interest on a complex subject.
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