Education – the best partner of Responsible Gaming

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The approach of the field of Responsible Gaming becomes more complex, in some countries existing true research teams who, with the help of the authorities and of the operators also, identify the sources of any potential behavior issues and propose solutions or plans which could help the players, in most of the situations. What is even more interesting is that these studies or research projects aren’t isolated cases and don’t remain “voiceless”: most of the times they are presented and recommended as good practices and become deontological norms.
”I believe that education plays the most important role in this balance – the sources of the problem, responsible gaming policies, solutions.
It’s no longer a secret that gaming, as well as any other entertainment source, may feed latent behaviors in certain consumers, behaviors which must be identified not only in their manifestation, but also in their primary source, sometimes of biological nature. The etiology of the gamers’ problems transforms, little by little, in a research subject, and this is why ROMBET encourages the Romanian sociologists, anthropologists and psychologists to be part of this complex process. Their contributions are extremely important – moreover, they are a necessary part of any solution. Our will, of the industry, cannot function without a scientific background”, declares Mr. Dan Iliovici, vice-president ROMBET.
Recently, a group of Canadian researchers has classified the risk factors for the players in two categories: biological and of social environment.
The first category, that of biological factors, divides the players into extremes:
Players with self-control vs. those with compulsive behavior;
Players who avoid risk vs. those who search the risk;
Players predisposed to problems vs. those with a balanced (genetic) background.
The other category, of the social environment (including the familial and of close friends) counts the risk factors identified in the study in a much more extended formula, emphasizing the complexity of the phenomenon. For example, scientists believe that even a stressful environment or life pattern may generate certain gaming problems to the consumers. Once classified the “sources” or the favorable context, the researchers claim that the factors which”consolidate” the occurrence of a problem are: wrong knowledge or total lack of information about gaming, replacement game or source of supply of a psychological need and “early” award to certain gaming categories.
Now, the classification of the types of prevention becomes even more interesting.
– Primary prevention is a process which prevents the individuals from the general category of the population to become players with issues.
– Secondary prevention is the process of preventing the development of the gaming related problems in the persons with risk factors.
– Tertiary prevention is the process of stopping and eventually reversing the existential problems of certain players, a process which is similar to treatment.
However, the researchers admit that practice may be slightly different.
First of all, the emphasis is put on the initiatives meant for the prevention of the development or of the triggering of the problems generated by gaming (that is primary and secondary prevention), rather than on the more general focus on the initiatives intended for the mitigation of the gaming associated damage.
This strategy is based on the assumption that the intervention which efficiently prevents the problems will also have beneficial effects on the mitigation of the damage caused to players without issues.
Secondly, the initiatives are generally grouped by the way in which they should function. The educational initiatives have the role of changing the knowledge, the attitudes, the beliefs and personal skills, in order to prevent any potential gaming problems. The policy initiatives aim at the prevention of the gaming issues by the modification of the general rules, regarding the availability/access to and the supply of gaming.
It is becoming obvious that the educational initiatives are the most efficient forms for preventing the gaming problems. Scientists put family first and the way in which this environment approaches various teenage problems, one of the most vulnerable categories. Then, there are the educational campaigns, which the researchers believe they must contain:
Encouraging the “awareness of the limits” or “responsible gaming”
Warnings about the potential gaming addiction
Identification of the signs/ symptoms to the players with problems
Information about the places where they can get help (offices, counseling phone lines etc.)
The assurance that the winning chances in gaming are clearly and correctly presented.
Finally, we must emphasize the fact that, by using information and awareness campaigns, we use rather cheap means of supplying prevention messages to a large part of the population and are meant to counter-balance the operators’ commercial efforts in view of promoting their products.