Study Suggest Kids Experience Social Pressure To Buy In-Game Items

Feelings of exclusion and wanting to "fit in" are pivotal factors.

Story Highlights

  • According to a new study, kids in Norway experience social pressure to purchase in-game items.
  • The study suggests that feelings of exclusion and social conformity play a pivotal role.
  • Companies utilizing attractive and deceptive marketing practices cultivate FOMO.

A new study by Norwegian researchers Kamilla K. Steinnes & Clara J. Reich suggests that kids in Norway are experiencing increased social pressure to purchase in-game items. This raises questions about the impact of online gaming on minors and the potential need for regulation in light of it becoming ingrained in society.

Steinnes and Reich focus on the critical age range of 10 to 15 years. It’s at this point that social dynamics intensify and children begin to feel the need to “fit in.” The study argues that during this pivotal stage, games become the core of the cultural fabric given the reach and appeal of digital entertainment among children at this age followed by the pressure to conform.

Focus on microtransactions rather than fixing the game's problems lead to its demise, Anthem is an example
In-game items from Athem’s cash shop.

The researchers point out the parallels with offline social pressures but with a digital twist: “Some children might end up feeling excluded if they lack the resources to play with their friends or might get picked on based on their in-game appearance.” This echoes the real-world experience of social exclusion based on factors like clothing or possessions.

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Epic Games’ major lawsuit on the use of dark patterns in Fortnite was also cited by the researchers. For the uninitiated, dark patterns refer to deceptive tactics used to manipulate users into spending money on in-game items. This incident underlines the potential vulnerabilities faced by minors in online gaming environments, particularly considering the vast numbers of them who play these games.

Moreover, the research also sheds light on one important aspect—awareness. It appears that some children lack knowledge of spending real money when purchasing in-game items. Additionally, utilizing stand-out colorization and timers cultivates “FOMO” aka fear of missing out.

As games become increasingly integrated into the lives of children, safeguarding their well-being and ensuring responsible practices by game devs has become a critical element of development.

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Science Norway

Saad is a News writer at eXputer. With vast journalistic experience working for a multitude of websites, Saad currently reports to eXputer with the latest news and dishes out his opinions on a frequent basis. He's currently studying Game and Interactive Media Design, which has further increased his knowledge about the ins and outs of the industry.

Experience: 1+ Year || Covers News Stories on eXputer || Education: Bachelors in Media Science.

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