Adolescents and the Loot Box phenomenon. A study on the most controversial phenomemon in video games
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Abstract This thesis is an academic project on Loot Boxes, a relatively new phenomenon in video games where gamers can purchase randomized in-game content for real money. Loot Boxes have become a controversial phenomenon over the years as it has similarities with gambling and both legislators and researchers fear the impact it could have on consumers. Its controversy also lies in the number of young people who plays video games, and, in gambling-related research, younger audiences are seen as more fragile and at risk for developing negative habits. In a rapidly expanding research field involving health, law, consumer and media studies, this thesis focused specifically on adolescents and how this group relates, use, and consumes the phenomenon. What motivates their usage? Do they loathe or enjoy the phenomenon? These are the types of questions which this thesis aims to answer. In order to gain new data, the thesis contributes with qualitative research by using focus groups. Two groups of four and five participants between the age of eighteen and twenty-four were asked about their experiences and relationship with the phenomenon. More than two hours of raw data were collected and were transcripted before being analysed in the thesis. The field has lacked qualitative research. The thesis uses existing research, which is mainly quantitative data. New research appearing in the last weeks before submitting this thesis indicates that the field is continuously covering gaps and will continue to be a rapidly evolving field of science. Changes to the role of Loot Boxes are inevitable in the future, and hopefully, the future of Loot Boxes will be based on science. Summarized, there are differences in the opinions of adolescents and researchers, participants were influenced by wether or not they were playing with friends, and as this was their primary motivation for purchasing in-game content and Loot Boxes, this motivation seems to be largely overlooked in existing research. After concluding the research questions the thesis suplements sugestions for further research that is needed on the phenonemon in future research.