Cursed Knowledge #28: Casual Gambling in Videogames

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Cursed Knowledge is our podcast that explores how narratives, for better and worse, have shaped our world without us noticing. The world is full of people pushing their version of reality on us and it’s time to expose the truth. No matter how much you might wish we hadn’t.

Gambling is everywhere in our society, as ubiquitous as a smartphone. We all recognize gambling in apps like DraftKings, and most of us recognize gambling in apps like RobinHood. 

Harper shows us how to see it in … Fortnite?

Yep, “loot boxes” in videogames are as much a form of casual gambling as a slot machine. It’s all part of how gambling has become an invisible thread in every part of society’s fabric.

PS – You won’t believe how much kids spend on these things.

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  1. Avatar for bhunt bhunt says:

    Great CK from Harper! You’re gonna like this one in an “I hate it” sort of way!

  2. I got pulled into gaming when my husband asked me to sign up for “Harry Potter: Wizards Unite” so he could have another in-game friend for a quest task. Yikes. I ended up dropping a load of money into HP:WU, but even with my help, Wizards Unite eventually went out of business. Niantic (HP:WU developer) also runs Pokemon Go.

    Another type of game that is popular on cell phones are “gacha” (pronounced “gotcha”) games, with game mechanics similar to Japanese vending machine games, as well as loot boxes.

  3. Should I start a new thread for this? This seems to be related, so I’ll drop a link here – it’s a substack about modern-day gamification, including a new (to me anyways) take on Ted Kaczynski with mention of the B.F. Skinner, Fermi Paradox, and more: Why Everything is Becoming a Game - by Gurwinder

    The above article mentions this gamified stairway experiment: [ ] Initially I found the idea cute - reminding me of a scene from “Big” - if this was installed in Boston I’d find some way to get ornery about it after a while (probably just continue to keep using the escalator).

    From the substack conclusion: “Play games the 90-year-old you would be proud of having played.” :100:

  4. My favorite part about all the sports gambling that’s available is how even with all these new marks players companies like DraftKings still cannot manage to turn a profit.

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