Geek Stuff

Computer Games, Loot Boxes, and The Gambling Question.



I’m not sure if it was a tweet I replied to about Loot Boxes, or a previous blog post about computer games, but I recently received an email asking for an opinion on whether In-game spending should be regulated by gambling laws, and so-called loot boxes banned entirely for children.

While I didn’t have the chance to reply in the time frame needed, I also wasn’t sure if I had any thoughts or opinions to share.

So here is my attempt at forming some.

In my defence, most of my gaming experience is around playing Mario, or Sonic The Hedgehog. And for years, the iPhone has been the most up to date gaming hardware I owned, but that in turn gave experience of In App Purchases. In App Purchases (Referred to above as In-game spending), is simply the option of buying extra services within the game or app you’re using.

This I would argue can be a good thing. It can give the user a chance to try out software that would normally cost to try it out, or let them have basic functionality of the app, while keeping the high end stuff for people who are willing to pay for those services.
It can also be a bloody annoying thing, as anyone who plays an EA game on the iphone can testify to. (EG “Do you want to play this game quicker? Pay some money”).
Its that second point which could make in game spending a bad thing…

Adam Alter, in his TED Talk below talks about how media is getting rid of Stopping Cues. A stopping cue is basically a signal that it’s time to move on, to do something new, to do something different. And — think about newspapers; eventually you get to the end, you fold the newspaper away, you put it aside.
Netflix, works by removing the stopping cue that is the end of the episode. (Autoplaying onto the next episode). Netflix binging is officially a thing. We as a human race, are not good at stopping an easy or fun task without being told to stop.
I wonder what happens when people are playing a game, come across a stopping point, but have the ability to go on, even if at a price?

Loot Boxes, from what I can gather, is this, but the next level up…
In video games, a loot box is a consumable virtual item which can be redeemed to receive a randomized selection of further virtual items, or loot, ranging from simple customization options for a player’s avatar or character, to game-changing equipment such as weapons and armor.
The contents of the Loot Box don’t have to be predictable.
It feels we’re now talking about gambling.
But not just gambling.
If you’re playing a game, and given the option of spending money to progress, there has been a lot of thought put in to get you to pay for that progress.

Its your willpower against expert user design.
Good Luck.

Read More on bbc.co.uk.

PC Gamer.

The Guardian.



When You Play Computer Games With Kids

After playing Mario Rabids with the small one, I couldn’t help but wonder if there are three distinct stages.

Obviously, when its time to take control of the game back, the game was so much harder than it would have been if I was allowed to help earlier…

The Frozen 2 Trailer

The hype train is starting.

Six years after Frozen was released… (YES its six years since Frozen came into our lives, and “Let it go” took its place in our collective nightmares subconscious), the second one is incoming.

Here’s the trailer for Frozen 2.

We already have an excited six year… its going to be a long wait until November.

When “In The Night Garden” meets “Doctor Who”?

Have you ever watched “In The Night Garden” and wondered if it could be any more creepy? I mean it’s totally about a sailor nicknamed “Iggle Piggle” stuck on boat in the middle of the ocean, so kinda creepy anyway. But what if “Doctor Who” was mixed in with it? More specifically, what if The Master from Doctor Who was stuck “In The Night Garden”?


Fleeing the Time War, Derek Jacobi escapes the wrath of the Daleks only to find himself in a special kind of hell…. a CBeebies TV show.

Don’t have nightmares.

Remember When Rowan Atkinson Was Doctor Who?

Remember When Rowan Atkinson Was Doctor Who? After stumbling over an article about this on the Den of Geek site, I couldn’t stop myself from tracking this down on YouTube.

Written by Steven Moffat, its almost his era of the new series in a nut shell.

The Lego Set, Queen Queen Watevra’s Build Whatever Box from Lego Movie 2

Lego. Is simply awesome. Considering how awesome this house (and myself), reckon Lego is, I’m not sure why I’ve not written a Lego review yet. But there was something about this set, that simply inspires.

Gentle Spoilers for Lego Movie 2 are found below!  

Lego Movie 2, introduces us to Queen Watevra. A character who can best be described as a shapeshifter, and therefore appears as many different shapes throughout the movie.

This set is based around that idea.

This is a set filled with many bricks, and instead of just an instruction booklet, there is an “inspiration guide” and a poster, which talks you through the 15 different smaller characters that can be made out of the many bricks you find in the box.

Great for smaller people, who are getting into Lego for themselves. Where with previous sets we’d brought for required “adult supervision”, she seems to get on and really own this one for herself.

If nothing else, it’s amazing to see this level of focus happening, enabling her to build the various colourful characters and more.

Queen Watevra is available from Amazon (affiliate link), but we managed to grab it super cheap from our local Tesco.