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Project: Gam(e)(a)ble: Interdisciplinary research on the blurring lines between gaming and gambling among teenagers

2020-10-01 – 2024-09-30

Abstract

The Gam(e)(a)ble project starts from the observation that the lines between gaming and gambling are becoming increasingly blurred in (online) games that are popular among teenagers. This observation raises the societal concern that minors are being progressively exposed to gambling. Games that include non-monetary forms of gambling (simulated gambling) such as free casino games as well as in-app purchases of so-called loot boxes or packages operate in a grey zone due to the lack of an obligatory strict classification system. This makes it hard for parents and teenagers to see potential risks. The convergence of gambling and gaming is a recent phenomenon, triggering a significant expansion of new forms of online gambling activities that are more covert and unrestricted than traditional land-based, offline gambling and therefore potentially more problematic.

 

The Gam(e)(a)ble project is a collaboration between KULeuven (and the Institute for Media Studies in particular), Ghent University, UCLL, and LUCA School of Arts. The primary investigators of the project as a whole are prof. dr. Rozane De Cock and prof. dr. Bieke Zaman. The supervisor of this specific PhD position at Ghent University is prof. Bart Soenens.

 

The central aim of the PhD project at Ghent University is to conduct, in close collaboration with the researchers of the broader project, a large-scale 3-wave longitudinal study among adolescents with a multi-informant assessment approach and a diary assessment. In addition to measures of gaming and gambling behaviors, this study will include measures of developmental outcomes (e.g., mental health) and predictors of gaming and gambling, including temperament, motivation for gaming, peer attitudes and behaviors, and parenting. Using this rich data collection, it will be examined which adolescents cross the line between gaming and gambling, what repercussions are for their mental health, and how adolescents’ personal characteristics, peer influences, and parents uniquely and transactionally affect gam(bl)ing behavior.

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