Opinion: Ted Cruz Supports Loot Boxes

In a recent episode of his podcast, The verdictSenator Ted Cruz voiced his support for the bane of all gamers’ existence: loot boxes.

Loot boxes are a game mechanic that has taken over the industry as a money-making scam. Like a slot machine, they promise big random rewards. Some games allow players to open loot boxes by paying with real-world currency. Others use in-game currency, which can be earned or purchased for real money.

Co-host Michael Knowles read a question from a constituent named Chris asking where Cruz stood on the practice, which critics have called gambling and is banned in some countries for promoting addictive behavior. Cruz acknowledged that some spaces, including video games, are designed to be addictive before saying that he himself is a gamer who had Twitch stream a gaming session with Dave Rubin. He then moved on to the actual question.

“I don’t like it in games when you can buy items and make your character stronger or get perks,” he said. “But I confess that when I play I sometimes buy it because it’s more fun when your character has a lot more cool stuff that would take six months or a year to build. So sometimes, okay, I’ll spend twenty bucks and buy a treasure chest full of coins so I can spend them to get cool stuff in the game.”

Cruz at least stated his support for loot boxes and pay-per-play mechanics by decrying the effect it has on minors before saying he doesn’t think loot boxes should be banned.

“I think it’s a bigger concern when it comes to children, when it comes to minors who have the potential to spend a lot of money,” he said. “With some of the loot boxes, there’s a fair amount of randomness, so you can get some great stuff but also some lousy stuff. I guess that’s the argument; it’s gambling. I’m open to having a discussion about this, but I approach the subject with a strong libertarian bent. I’d like to not see children exploited or harmed… but at the same time I’m not sure the federal government really has a dog in the fight. If people in a video game want to spend money on in-game stuff, my gut probably tells me it might not be a good fit if you spend large amounts of money on games, but I’m not sure the federal government has a role in stopping that. you do it”.

You can see the full piece below.
First off, it’s no surprise that Cruz is a pay-per-play player. His whole worldview is basically that the more money you have, the less you have to have to comply with the rules and conditions of life. This is a man who actively believes that poverty is a necessary component of American society.

“Poverty has been a part of American life since this country was founded, in 1776, but that apparently means nothing to the Cancel Culture Democrat gang,” Cruz once said. “In his narrow-minded view, poverty is somehow no longer appropriate. If you read the fine print, they also want to end hunger and homelessness. And, if you’re used to living without health insurance, I’m sorry, that’s another American tradition they want to cancel.”

So it’s no surprise that Cruz has little trouble spending extra money on a game to skip the line when it comes to levels and gear. It is his political ideology in microcosm.

Second, these mechanics are ruining both games and people’s lives. James Stephanie Sterling put together an informative and harrowing exposé on the human cost of the mechanics of online gambling that showed people losing their homes and destroying their relationships. Gambling is a disease, like all addictions, and Cruz’s decision to frame it as an option dangerously undermines the cost to society. These mechanics are specifically designed to promote addictive behaviors in order to funnel hundreds or thousands of extra dollars into the pockets of developers.

This is why so many video games are so broken and boring these days. Progress is not measured in skill, but in random reward. The games progress creeps forward, frustrating the player until he spends a few extra bucks to jump like Cruz does. This is bad enough in free-to-play mobile games, but in Triple-A titles with a base cost of $70, it’s insulting. Turning gaming into casinos is one of many ways the medium is beginning to experience a wealth gap that condemns low-income gamers to monotony, while gamers like Cruz navigate their disposable income.

It’s good that Cruz is open to discussing how this affects minors, but it’s pretty clear he has no problem with a system that rewards the rich and punishes the poor. As a current Texas gubernatorial candidate put it in 2018, “true to form.”

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