Triplepoints of Interest – Oct. 9

In this week’s TPoI, Riot co-founders to lead development on a new title, Oculus reveals new standalone headset, and the ESRB says that in-game loot boxes aren’t gambling.

Riot Co-founders to Lead Development On New Game

Announced via a blog post on Wednesday, Riot co-founders Brandon Beck and Marc Merril have shifted their focus from leading the company to leading the development of a new Riot

Games production. reports that CFO Dylan Jadeja, CTO Scott Gelb and president Nicolo Laurent will handle company operations and that Beck and Merril will primarily focus on development of the new title for the time being. Glixel reports that the two founded the company in Los Angeles in 2006 as a company dedicated to working on the MOBA, League of Legends. Eurogamer featured a quote from the pair which says that game development is, “…what we really love to do.”

Oculus Reveals New Standalone Headset

At their OC4 conference in San Jose this week, Oculus released details of their new standalone virtual reality headset, Oculus Go. Engadget reports that the headset features a WQHD 2560×1440 resolution and built in audio, doesn’t require a computer or phone to run and is thus changing the VR landscape. Digital Trends posted a breakdown of the device and said that the high resolution and wide field of view allow it to provide a VR experience in between that of mobile and high end-computer tethered VR headsets. Mashable’s Monica Chin reported that the lack of cables and external devices made Oculus Go more appealing than standard VR headsets.

The ESRB Rules that Loot Boxes Aren’t Gambling

Thursday, the Entertainment Software Rating Board publicly announced that in-game loot boxes and drops, like the loot boxes popularized in games like Overwatch and Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, do not qualify as gambling. Forbes provided further clarification from the ESRB that states that these loot boxes are not considered gambling because the end user is always guaranteed to receive something and can’t lose their chance at a prize. Kotaku reports that the ESRB compared loot boxes to trading card packs and said that, while the chances of receiving something rare are low, gamers have a 0% chance of receiving nothing when opening a pack. PC Gamer followed up on the story and reported that the European games rating body PEGI and the UK trade group Ukie, agree with this stance will not make further rulings on the matter.

The Decisive Battle: How Video Games Truly Affect Us

The belief that the media we consume affects us negatively is not a new idea. The debate that arose twenty years ago when the Entertainment Software Rating Board (or ESRB) was created to inform consumers of the violent content of video games was far from the beginning. It started with the advent of organized society. Governments have a long history of banning, imprisoning, and even executing any author or journalist for writing articles and books deemed a “bad influence on the public.”

Today, governments threaten to unleash a firing squad that would shoot giant stickers on video game boxes stating that, “Excessive exposure to violent video games and other violent media has been linked to aggressive behavior.”

This movement arrives in the middle of the battle that was documented by the Wall Street Journal between Jane McGonigal, game designer and advocate for the benefits of video games on gamers in the real world, and Edward Castronova, Indiana University professor who questions the extent of Ms. McGonigal’s claims. Ms. McGonigal states that putting people in the role of “hero” in a video game makes players aware of their best selves. Professor Castronova claims that though we have already integrated video games into our lives, all media scholars agree that too much use points to the frivolity of games—that all games come to the same conclusion of valor, without showing players that everybody has varied views on what constitutes honor and morality.

I would otherwise jump to Ms. McGonigal’s side, using myself as an example of someone who has been bettered by games, someone who believes that video games can indeed do us good as a society. But that is too easy, and it will never banish the naysayers to the land of believers, no matter how hard Ms. McGonigal fights to prove that games can make us better people.

Instead, I will step out of the warzone, look away from what arguments are on the table, and look inside of myself. Why is my life better because of video games? Why am I confronted with my best self when I assume the role of [insert popular RPG character name here]? Why am I a better person now after I played [insert game here]?

I know my answers to those questions, and I will not explain them in detail here. This is why:

I believe that before we point fingers at video games or certain video game companies for promoting violent behavior, we have to remind ourselves that we are responsible for our own actions. We are responsible for controlling how the media we consume affects us. Parents are responsible for controlling how the media their children consume affects them. Whatever that entails is up to you to decide. You are reading this blog post, and you probably also read the Wall Street Journal articles by Jane McGonigal and Edward Castronova, and you are probably deciding for yourself right now what you think of all of them, which you choose to believe, and which one affected you the most.

You are in control. You are in control of how a video game affects you. Does it raise your moral values? Or does it threaten to lower them? Do you focus on the blood that results from the fight, or do you focus on the story, what your character learns in the game, and in turn, what YOU learn from the game?

You can choose to dismiss video games as an art or as a viable piece of entertainment. You can choose to connect yourself with the experience of a game, BE the character you played on screen, feel his or her emotions and learn what he or she learns. In any case, the good and bad in a video game are found within. How do video games truly affect us? The answer: you decide.