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[ecrea] cfp - "Special Issue on Monetization, Gambling Mechanics and Loot Boxes in Video Games"
Fri Sep 21 16:50:59 GMT 2018
Call for Papers: Special Issue of Journal of Consumer Culture
**Digital Transformations in Gaming and Gambling Consumption**
Dr Tom Brock, Sociology, Manchester Metropolitan University
Dr Mark R Johnson, Political Science, University of Alberta
Consumption patterns of video games and gambling are undergoing a number
of profound shifts, with new phenomena emerging almost every year to
complicate and confuse the once-clear boundaries between these two forms
of play. Perhaps the most visible element of this trend is the rise of
“loot boxes”, virtual containers that contain an unknown selection of
items either cosmetic or gameplay-changing in nature. These are part of
a broader trend of “microtransactions” in digital games, small purchases
that are designed to enhance or progress a player’s experience; loot
boxes in particular are the most “gamblified” of all of these. Similar
trends are occurring elsewhere. Within Esports, a growing number of
betting sites are now accepting wagers on professional gaming
competitions, and the market for Esports wagering is estimated to be
seven times the size of the market for Esports itself (Smith, 2018).
Within Esports games themselves, skin betting entails the wagering of
digital cosmetic items, “skins”, against and with other players,
sometimes in traditional gambling games and sometimes in custom
competitions designed uniquely for that purpose (Perez, 2018). On live
streaming websites, broadcasters have developed a wide range of systems
that resemble competitions, raffles or even lotteries monetise their
content (Johnson & Woodcock, Forthcoming) and encourage viewers to
remain loyal. Social casino games reproduce many forms of play from
traditional brick-and-mortar casinos on mobile phones, with easy user
interfaces and “juicy” game elements designed to maximise appeal and
user retention (Cassidy, 2013; Gainsbury et al, 2016). Online poker is
also gradually experiencing a resurgence since the legal controversies
of 2011, and some of the largest sites have themselves begun using a
loot box system to reward long-term players for their loyalty
(Derbyshire, 2018). Finally, the recent classification of “gaming
addiction” by the World Health Organisation uses understandings of
pathological gambling to define a threat of pathological gaming (Judge,
2018). This brings medicalized understandings of gaming and gambling
closer together than ever before.
In particular, we note the controversies around many of these phenomena
have brought forth a series of debates about the integration of gambling
mechanics into video games and vice versa. For example, there is
extensive disagreement about whether or not ‘loot boxes’ are a form of
gambling, and major games developers, such as Electronic Arts, are now
sharply at odds with regulatory bodies in North America, Europe and
Asia. Equally, the concept of ‘paying-to-win’ is changing established
cultural and discursive concepts around ‘gaming meritocracy’, whilst
many policymakers have expressed fears that, through microtransactions,
those under legal age limits are experiencing gambling mechanics in an
environment that is difficult to control or regulate. All of these
combined disputes and issues set a timely context for studying such new
forms of digital gambling and gaming, and the distinctive online
cultures that have arisen around them. Whatever the moral or ethical
responses to these trends, this blurring is now an increasingly central
element of all kinds of play, and is deeply reshaping consumption
patterns across both existing and new demographic lines.
This special issue is therefore concerned with unpacking how the rise of
gaming systems in gambling, the rise of gambling systems in gaming, and
how the implementation of new forms of monetary gameplay cutting across
these boundaries are reshaping our production, consumption and
prosumption (Ritzer and Jurgenson, 2010; Beer and Burrows, 2010) of
digital play. In particular, we invite papers on the following topics,
although this is not an exhaustive list:
- The consumption of loot boxes, microtransactions, and other
- New gambling technologies and platforms (e.g. "skill-based" video
- Live-streaming and Twitch.tv gambling integration, e.g. viewer
- Skin betting and other traded or wagered virtual currencies.
- Cultural changes surrounding play and money, leisure and work.
- Economic challenges and new business models of the games industry.
- New ways that game consumption and gambling consumption are being
SUBMISSION AND REVIEW
Proposals should include an abstract of 500-750 words, and bios for all
authors of no more than 100 words. The deadline for proposals is
December 31st 2018, with invitations to submit a full paper going out on
January 31st 2019. The guest editors welcome both theoretical and
empirical contributions. Invited paper submissions will be due 1st June
2019 and should be submitted to both Guest Editors by email. Once
submitted they will undergo peer review under the normal procedures of
Journal of Consumer Culture; therefore, invitation to submit does not
guarantee acceptance to the special issue. The special issue is
scheduled for online publication in 2020. If you have any questions,
please feel free to discuss your ideas with the authors at
(T.Brock /at/ mmu.ac.uk) <mailto:(T.Brock /at/ mmu.ac.uk)> and
(markrjohnsongames /at/ gmail.com) <mailto:(markrjohnsongames /at/ gmail.com)>.
Beer, D. and Burrows, R. Consumption, Production and Participatory Web
Cultures, Journal of Consumer Culture, 10(1), p3-12.
Cassidy, R. (2013). Partial convergence: social gaming and real-money
gambling. In Qualitative research in gambling (pp. 86-103). Routledge.
Derbyshire, M. (2018). PokerStars NJ Ditching Old VIP Club In Favor Of
Stars Rewards This Year. US Poker, available at
Gainsbury, S. M., Russell, A. M., King, D. L., Delfabbro, P., & Hing, N.
(2016). Migration from social casino games to gambling: Motivations and
characteristics of gamers who gamble. Computers in Human Behavior, 63,
Johnson, M. R. & Woodcock, J. (Forthcoming). “And today’s top donator
is”: How Live Streamers on Twitch.tv Monetise and Gamify their
Broadcasts. Social Media + Society.
Judge, A. (2018). Video games and mental health: 'Nobody's properly
talking'. BBC News, available at https://www.bbc.com/news/newsbeat-44662669.
Perez, M. (2018). From Unikrn To Skin Betting: How The Supreme Court's
Sports Gambling Ruling Impacts Esports. Forbes, available at
Ritzer, R. Jurgenson, N. 2010. Production, Consumption, Prosumption. The
Nature of Capitalism on the Age of the Digital Prosumer, Journal of
Consumer Culture, 10(1), p.13-36.
Smith, N. (2018). Esports bookmaking? Globally, it’s already a
billion-dollar gambling industry. Washington Post, available at
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