Today, 18 January, the European Parliament adopted a report calling on the European Commission to propose legislation to protect online gamers.

Boomers, millennials, zoomers, Gen A – we all live our online lives in different ways. When it comes to gaming, where once gamers sat side by side in arcades or living rooms, they now play online, connecting with people from all over the world.

Gaming has always been about human connection and interaction, but there is a darker side to this phenomenon. Dark patterns written into game designs can trick users by manipulating or coercing them to make certain decisions. This can be in the form of loot boxes that ask players for real world currency to get prizes, or pay-to-win models that give players that buy in-game items a very big advantage over others. The hypersexualisation of female characters perpetuate misogynistic tropes about gender. This can be harmful for gamers, particularly for children who may develop unrealistic expectations of women and girls and develop low self-esteem. 

All of this has real world consequences on the gamer, their mental health, and their own, or their family’s, finances. 

While there are many benefits to online gaming, there are loopholes when it comes to consumer protection. Despite its popularity, the gaming industry remains largely unregulated. Some member states like Belgium and Spain view paid loot boxes as a form of gambling, others like the Netherlands and Slovakia are still deciding what approach to take. 

Three ways the Left wants to protect gamers online:

  • Regulate loot boxes and pay-to-win models;
  • Tackle games designed to hook players, especially through the use of personal data;
  • End the hypersexualisation of female characters.

Watch our video.

In her address to the Parliament, Left MEP, Anne-Sophie Pelletier, La France Insoumise, called for loot boxes to be banned. Pelletier said that even though half of gamers in the EU are women and girls – women are not properly represented in the industry and called for greater representation of women in the sector to break down sexist stereotypes in the virtual and real world. 

On the outcome of today’s vote, Anne-Sophie Pelletier said: “I am pleased with the adoption of this report as we have managed to incorporate recommendations to limit the hypersexualisation of female characters in video games. It’s unacceptable that they are represented as sexualised objects, this reinforces rape culture”. 

 

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