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Online Gaming: A changing scenario on the cards

GS Paper 2 

 Syllabus: Governance

 

Source: Th, Th 

Context: Tamil Nadu Assembly re-adopts Bill against online gambling

What is Online gaming?

It refers to video games/mobile games that are played over the internet through various devices. E.g., multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games, first-person shooter (FPS) games, massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs), and many others.

 

Types of online gaming:

  1. e-sports (well-organized electronic sports which include professional players),
  2. Fantasy sports
  3. Casual games: these can be either skill-based (mental skill) or chance based (based on a random activity like a roll of a dice) online games.

 

Differences between ‘games of skill’ and ‘games of chance’:

Game of SkillGame of Chance
DefinitionA game where the outcome is primarily determined by the skill of the playersA game where the outcome is primarily determined by luck or chance
ExamplesChess, poker, sportsSlot machines, roulette, lottery
StrategyStrategies and tactics can be used to improve one’s chances of winningNo strategy can guarantee a win
Probability of winningIt depends on the player’s skill levelDetermined by random events
Legal StatusGenerally legal in most countries including IndiaRegulated or prohibited in many countries. Mostly banned in India except, in a few states e.g., Casinos are allowed in Goa, Daman and Diu, and Sikkim.

 

Issues with online gaming

Issues with Online GamingDescription
AddictionOnline gaming addiction can lead to physical and psychological harm, as well as interfere with daily life activities.

Gambling addiction: Online gambling games can lead to addiction and financial problems.

CyberbullyingOnline gaming can involve communication with other players through chat or voice features, which can lead to cyberbullying and harassment.
Security risksOnline gaming platforms are at risk of cyber-attacks and data breaches, which can result in compromised personal and financial information.
Inappropriate contentIt can contain violent, sexual, or other inappropriate content that is not suitable for all ages.
Ethical ConcernsIt can perpetuate negative stereotypes and biases, particularly towards marginalized groups; In-game purchases can lead to overspending or exploiting vulnerable individuals
Cheating and hackingIt can be prone to cheating and hacking, which can ruin the gameplay experience for others.
Physical and health issuesLong periods of sitting and staring at a screen can cause physical health problems such as eyestrain, back pain, and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Social isolationExcessive online gaming can lead to social isolation and a lack of face-to-face communication with others.

 

Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) has released the Draft Rules for Online Gaming (as an amendment to the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021)

Provisions of the Draft RulesDescription
Self-Regulatory Body·        Online gaming companies must register with a self-regulatory body.

·        The body must have a board of directors with five members from diverse fields, including online gaming, public policy, IT, psychology, and medicine.

Due DiligenceOnline gaming companies must undertake additional due diligence, including KYC of users, transparent withdrawal and refund of money, and a fair distribution of winnings.
Random Number Generation CertificateGaming companies must secure a Random Number Generation Certificate, which is typically used by platforms that offer card games to ensure that game outputs are statistically random and unpredictable.
Restrictions on BettingOnline gaming companies will not be allowed to engage in betting on the outcome of games.
ComplianceOnline gaming platforms must appoint a compliance officer, a nodal officer, and a grievance officer.

 

Other regulations:

  • State subject: Online gaming so far has been a state subject, but state governments are finding it extremely difficult to enforce certain rules like geo-blocking certain apps or websites within the territory of their state.
  • Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Online Gambling and Regulation of Online Games Bill, 2022 prohibits all forms of online gambling and allows for the regulation of online games that are not considered gambling.
    • The bill prohibits minors from participating in online games and prohibits the promotion of online gambling and gaming through advertising or other means.
  • Karnataka government had previously banned all forms of online gaming where the transfer of money is involved
  • GST: A proposed 28% Goods and Services Tax that may soon be imposed on deposits
  • The Puducherry government will ban online gaming soon

 

Way forward:

Clear and consistent regulations, responsible gaming measures, industry self-regulation, public awareness campaigns, and collaboration between industry and government can all help to create a sustainable and responsible online gaming industry in India.

 

Conclusion:

The online gaming industry in India can continue to grow and provide entertainment and employment opportunities while also protecting players and promoting responsible gaming practices

 

Insta Links

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Mains Links:

“Internet gaming has turned worse than drugs”. Do you agree? Critically examine the statement in light of the announcement made by the World Health Organization (WHO) to include “gaming disorder” as a mental health condition. (250 words)

How does gaming addiction, impact children? Do you think China’s recent imposition of a three-hour limit on gaming, is a good way to tackle it? (150 words)