# The influence of video game reward structure on player risk-taking

D’Amico, NJ 2021 , 'The influence of video game reward structure on player risk-taking', Honours thesis, University of Tasmania.

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There is speculation that engagement with gambling-like in-game rewards might be a risk factor for future gambling. No empirical data exists on this proposed relationship. We test one possible mechanism that might support this pathway: the effects of engaging with gambling-like reward mechanisms on risk-taking. We hypothesised that gambling-like rewards (i.e., randomised rewards delivered via a loot box) would produce an increase in risk-taking compared to a fixed, and no reward condition. 153 participants (M$$_{age}$$ = 24.8, SD = 6.09) completed twenty minutes gameplay followed by a gamified, online version of the Balloon Analogue Risk Task. Gambling and loot box engagement self-reports were collected via the Problem Gambling Severity Index, and Risky Loot-Box Index. Bayesian t-tests comparing effects on risk-taking between reward groups indicated moderate to strong evidence in favour of the null hypothesis (BF = 4.05-10.64). These effects were not moderated by players’ gambling symptomatology. A Spearman correlation between past loot box engagement and self-reported gambling severity (r$$_s$$ = 0.35, p < .001) aligned with existing literature. Findings suggest the need for additional exploration into shared characteristics of gambling behaviour and loot box engagement. Future research may benefit from targeting individuals with elevated gambling symptomatology and loot box use.