Although the two sound similar, and are in fact aesthetically and functionally similar, gaming and gambling are subtly different from one another. It is not so much in the way that they are played, but rather the method used to play the game. Gaming refers to playing and winning a game based on the skill that the player has. However, gambling refers to playing a game and possibly winning money, based solely on the luck that the person has. One of the most classical approaches to separate the two terms comes from a definition from Caillois who stated that there were 4 types of games: competitive games or agon, chance based games or alea, simulation game or mimicry and vertigo-type based (children spinning around and falling down dizzy) games or ilinix. In the context of gambling games, alea and agon are crucial as they are based on a combination of skill and luck.
Technological advancements have made digital media content easily shareable across multiple devices and networks sometimes known as digital convergence. This digital convergence has expanded itself to include gaming and gambling. A research concluded that there were mainly 5 types of convergences when it came to gaming and gambling:
- The introduction of elements of gambling into social media games
- The use of gambling features, especially social gambling, on online gambling websites
- Making non-gambling games into gambling games so that people get an opportunity to win items of value
- The consolidation of similar games on non monetary sites where the creator or operator of both gambling and non-gambling games are the same
- The cross marketing of online gambling sites to social casino players
The three most prevalent examples of the convergence of gambling and gaming are social casino games, loot boxes and e-sports.
SOCIAL CASINO GAMES
Social casino games can be seen as gambling games, but instead of real world money, you play with in-game currency. This makes the process of playing the game much more fun because there isn’t much at stake. However, critics argue that social casino games might be setting the stage for a gambling addiction because when these people become confident enough, they might try to gamble with real world money.
Loot boxes are virtual boxes in games which contain a number of items that are valuable inside the game. The player is allowed one spin for a particular amount, and after that, for the next spin, another amount needs to be paid. There are a lot of parallels run between loot boxes and gambling, but no legislation has been passed against it because it is part of the game mechanic; and banning that would mean banning the entire game.
E-sports is a rapidly growing global phenomenon and it combines the skill required to win at video games and the luck to win a bet. E-sports betting has long been known as a very niche gambling arena, but it has now grown out of its niche; gathering millions of followers thanks to streaming websites like Twitch and Youtube.