Social pressure forces children to purchase microtransactions in video games

Video games have become a common element of our daily lives and, as such, are also affected by social pressures that go beyond virtual environments. At least that's what a study by the Norwegian Ministry of Family and Children's Affairs says, which concludes that younger players feel pushed to buy extra items in games through microtransactions as a way of ensuring membership. a group.

Behaviors that are observed in the real world

The study signed by researchers Clara Julia Reich and Kamilla Knutsen Steines shows how younger users have incorporated behaviors into video games that have been transferred from the real world. That is, if before Not wearing designer clothes, not having the fashionable sneakers or the “right” t-shirt, were factors that could lead to isolation. of a person, now these same behaviors are replicated in the field of cosmetic items within electronic entertainment. Thus, any young person who actively participates in 'Fortnite' or 'Roblox' groups may feel pressured to invest in these elements to avoid possible isolation or becoming a target of bullying. In fact, many of the young people evaluated in the study expressed fear of not being able to make friends if they did not meet certain requirements within video games.

“The pressure to fit in is similar to what already happens in other contexts, but it takes new forms,” those responsible for the investigation explain to the specialized media Crossplay. “Some children may end up feeling left out if they lack the resources (e.g. good Wi-Fi, appearances, gestures, virtual currency) to play with their friends or risk being bullied for the skin they are wearing.” ”.

Microtransactions are part of a new social dynamic

The study also determines that young people have created a series of social dynamics within digital environments that are not being evaluated correctly. They assure that a greater understanding of these mechanisms should be of interest to those responsible for creating public policies, but that, contrary to what is advised, there is a very limited amount of research in these areas. “There is still much to learn about the social dynamics within the virtual worlds that children occupy and policymakers around the world are only interested in this issue from an economic regulatory perspective,” they report. “Video games are also an important part of children's daily lives and there is very little research on young people's digital consumption.”

The study that analyzes the behavior of young people between 10 and 15 years oldfurther determines that these They do not make distinctions between what belongs to the real or virtual world.. For them, video games and social networks are different parts of the same social environment regulated by a series of rules that are not yet sufficiently defined and are of great importance in the future.

Dangerous leisure activities among children

In this sense, video games are especially sensitive, since they constantly expose the public to advertising and slogans, both economic and social, through means and tactics that are as advanced as they are effective. In addition, experiences that use virtual currency (such as 'Fortnite' and 'Roblox') are designed not to offer the sensation of spending real money, which can lead to investing exaggerated amounts, something that little by little has translated into lawsuits. and sanctions for companies like Epic Games.

“There are important differences when comparing video games with other leisure activities among children,” the researchers explain. “In football, for example, children may be exposed to commercial content, such as sports brand posters, usually for a limited time within a given physical context (for example, during training on a football field). However, video games employ a variety of personalized marketing strategies to consistently target children and their need for a sense of belonging and individuality. Furthermore, in many of the games we find deceptive design strategies (i.e. dark patterns) that take advantage of the lack of regulation. “This implies that young people have less protection online compared to physical spaces.”