I think back to my childhood of some of my favorite games and realize the concept of “chance” played an important role. In many games, the system is made to utilize random chance to extend playability. A game like World of Warcraft utilizes this in item/loot drops. Each enemy has a specified probability of dropping a range of loot. The entire game is just pressing a variety of keys on an elaborate slot machine where the reward is loot instead of monetary credits.
One of Blizzard’s other hit franchises, “Diablo” has gambling functions within the game. The in-game gold is used to purchase unknown item classes with variable stats. This may or may not have been the reason so many users spent countless hours farming the in-game currency. I see little difference in using real Canadian dollars to purchase the in-game currency, and then use these “credits” to purchase items with randomly assigned values; and then potentially “cashing out” by selling these items back in exchange for real world currencies.
Are we training our children to keep pushing the neuro-gratification button? When the games become boring will they make their way to the slot machines? The exploitative American gambling laws we heard about today in Nevada – will the people ever need to leave their computer chairs? When the system is set up such that the “house” slowly dwindles your money while distracting you with flashy lights; or perhaps worse, makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something by destroying a game sprite demon of some kind — do these people even have a …chance?