Friday, 21 October 2016
Online gaming is hugely popular and becoming more so. The ease with which games can be played on mobile devices has helped spread the appeal of gaming beyond hardcore players using their PC or console in a room at home. The variety of games available to suit all tastes has also contributed to its popularity, but with it comes the threat of spending money when the appeal of a game takes hold.
Be wary of the ‘free to play’ gaming model
It’s easy to go from playing a free game to spending money frequently as your commitment to playing increases.
It’s the classic way games manufacturers ‘monetise’ their product; they attract many players to a free to play game and encourage them to spend, either to enhance their experience or get extra help to progress further as the game becomes more challenging.
Here are some ways to keep yourself from running up debts, as these young children did to the tune of over £3,000 on their father’s smartphone.
1. Avoid gaming addiction
It’s easy to become addicted to games; witness the scores of people who turned Angry Birds into a phenomenon on their mobiles. Since many of us take our phones everywhere, a certain game can soon become part of our daily routine - a bit like checking social media, emails or pursuing other online pursuits like sudoku or online bingo.
It’s a good idea to only have one or two games loaded onto your mobile and/or tablet, and to limit gameplay so as to avoid getting ‘sucked in’ and tempted to spend.
2. Set alternative objectives
Rather than focusing on the game itself, try playing for other purposes. For example, Pokémon Go can be used more as a means of getting some exercise (as the game requires walking around areas) as opposed to catching the most Pokémon.
Another objective could be to master one specific character as opposed to several, thus avoiding being tempted by ‘exciting new characters’ as they become available.
3. Make it harder to spend money
Online games make it deliberately easy to make purchases with a couple of clicks or taps.
Switch off functions on your PC and phone that make it easy to purchase, such as Touch ID; delete stored credit cards and generally put deliberate obstacles in place to stop making payments as easy as swiping a finger or tapping a ‘pay now’ button.
4. Delay purchases
While in- game purchases are deliberately made to be quick and easy, try to discipline yourself to wait before making a purchase. In the same way people delay buying something in a shop to see if they feel as keen on it the next day, try to do the same online.
You may easily find that, later on, the need for that in-game purchase has disappeared - you may even find the desire to go back to that game has dwindled.
5. Observe security
If you are disposing of gaming equipment such as a console, ensure your personal information and accounts are securely deleted from them.
If you’re involved with online gaming communities, beware of sharing information and accepting downloads to ‘make the game more fun.’ Anything other than official releases from the manufacturer or developer could be malware designed to harvest your financial information.
There’s no harm in gaming, of course, but the important thing is to guard against even mild gaming addiction. An occasional session playing a favourite game can morph into longer periods, and it’s easy for those in-game purchases to get out of control.
Jessica Foreman is a Durham University graduate specialising in business and lifestyle based writing. She has developed her skills on projects surrounding The British Broadcasting Company, and running a print and online based magazine whilst at university. She is currently looking towards starting her Masters in Mobile and Personal Communications as well as broadening her horizons through travelling.