I usually spend a day of my Westminster week working on DCMS Committee work and today we’ve released our long-awaited report into immersive and addictive technologies. The publication of the report follows months of Committee hearings involving video games giants like EA Games along with social media giants like Snapchat and Instagram.
The wide-ranging report calls upon games companies to accept responsibility for addictive gaming disorders, protect their players from potential harms due to excessive play-time and spending, and along with social media companies introduce more effective age verification tools for users.
The immersive and addictive technologies inquiry investigated how games companies operate across a range of social media platforms and other technologies, generating vast amounts of user data and operating business models that maximise player engagement in a lucrative and growing global industry.
- Sale of loot boxes to children should be banned
- Government should regulate ‘loot boxes’ under the Gambling Act
- Games industry must face up to responsibilities to protect players from potential harms
- Industry levy to support independent research on long-term effects of gaming
- Serious concern at lack of effective system to keep children off age-restricted platforms and games
MPs on the Committee have previously called for a new Online Harms regulator to hold social media platforms accountable for content or activity that harms individual users. They say the new regulator should also be empowered to gather data and take action regarding addictive games design from companies and behaviour from consumers. E-sports, competitive games played to an online audience, should adopt and enforce the same duty of care practices enshrined in physical sports. Finally, the MPs say social media platforms must have clear procedures to take down misleading ‘deep-fake’ videos – an obligation they want to be enforced by a new Online Harms regulator.
In a first for Parliament, representatives of major games including Fortnite maker Epic Games and social media platforms Snapchat and Instagram gave evidence on the design of their games and platforms.