UK's NHS mental health boss slams video game loot boxes

UK's NHS mental health boss slams video game loot boxes

The UK's National Health Service's (NHS) mental health director Claire Murdoch has said that video game companies should not be putting gambling mechanics in their releases.

In a post on NHS England's website, Murdoch said that such mechanics in video games were teaching young people to gamble and setting them up for addiction. This comes in the midst of an on-going debate about loot boxes and the risks they pose.

The UK's gambling watchdog has said that video game loot boxes are not gambling, while the UK Children's Commissioner has called for non-cosmetic in-game purchases to be banned from releases.

A Department of Digital, Media, Culture and Sport select committee last year into addictive and immersive technologies said that publishers and developers needed to work with European rating agency PEGI on the subject of loot boxes and advised the organisation to label 'gambling' content as such.

"Frankly no company should be setting kids up for addiction by teaching them to gamble on the content of these loot boxes. No firm should sell to children loot box games with this element of chance, so yes those sales should end," Murdoch wrote.

“Young people’s health is at stake, and although the NHS is stepping up with these new, innovative services available to families through our Long Term Plan, we cannot do this alone, so other parts of society must do what they can to limit risks and safeguard children’s wellbeing.”

PCGamesInsider Contributing Editor

Alex Calvin is a freelance journalist who writes about the business of games. He started out at UK trade paper MCV in 2013 and left as deputy editor over three years later. In June 2017, he joined Steel Media as the editor for new site In October 2019 he left this full-time position at the company but still contributes to the site on a daily basis. He has also written for, VGC, Games London, The Observer/Guardian and Esquire UK.