Video Game Loot Boxes: Anatomy of a Moral Panic

In Politics by Michael Rae

Executive Summary

It is almost a law of public policy that technological innovations cause moral panics. It is unsurprising then that one of the more recent innovations in the video game industry, “loot boxes,” have become targets of similar criticism. Since 2017 especially, loot boxes have been the subject of controversy involving claims of addiction and gambling, accompanied by calls for government regulation that bear all the trappings of a moral panic.

Loot boxes exist in many different forms and under a variety of names, but in general a loot box is “a consumable virtual item which can be redeemed to receive