Digital Dice

Ethan Agnetti, Staff Writer

Commentary on Game-play Gambling: Is It Here To Stay?

Ryan has just gotten home from a long day of school. AP Chemistry can really take a lot out of a guy you know? So what better way to de-stress than to play some video games! Ryan boots up his computer, logs on to Genshin Impact, and puts $400 into the game. Not once talking with his parents about the purchase, or consulting friends. What is he going to use this money for? Gambling.

Considering the increase in popularity with regards to video games in the early 2000s, the overall landscape has only continued to expand and evolve. It’s shocking how quickly major companies can reach their greedy hands into an activity as innocent as playing a video game. Now, I cannot be the only person able to clearly see the prevalent dangers of introducing gambling to underage children while they are still developing, learning, and finding their place in the world, especially when it is marketed in big colorful letters all around the game that they play, possibly every day. While I can talk all day about the dangers of gambling, that isn’t what this article is about, it’s about the act of gambling within a video game, with the ability to bet on Esports teams performances at tournaments, betting on your own performance in a game, “Gacha” games or pseudo slot machines, or just literal gambling.

I will focus on the “Gacha” style games, more specifically honing in on one game in particular, Genshin Impact. Genshin Impact created by miHoYo, was released September 28, 2020, and has recently grossed over $3 billion dollars worldwide through use of this slot machine type system, according to I personally have played the game rather extensively and have gathered the following thoughts on the game. It’s extremely fun, with game play similar to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, having open world exploration at the forefront with a cutesy “anime” aesthetic.

While the game may be fun, a very prevalent and important aspect of the game is “rolling,” or gambling, for new playable characters with either paying real money or earning the rewards within the game. While it is possible to earn enough rewards to get the characters you wish for, that doesn’t mean they will make it easy for you to get. The game progressively gives you less resources as you continue to play in order to coax you into purchasing the resources directly. With characters only returning in limited time “banners” it makes the player feel extreme levels of “FOMO.” When players don’t know when the character will return, it could take up to months for the character to be able to be “rolled” on again and in extreme cases up to a year in between character returns, they have a “fear of missing out.”

With kids playing upwards of four hours a day on the game, it borders on the line of addiction and hobby, especially when there are incentives to continue playing the game and/or spend money on it. When I realized what topic I would write about, I thankfully already had friends who play Genshin Impact, so I went to them to ask them how often they play. “Seven days a week,” said Terry, a Tenth Grader at FHS. “On a daily basis,” said Chris, and similarly, “everyday probably” said Frank. When asked how much time they think they have put into the game I received shocking answers: “700 hours, probably,” Terry states; this would equate to nearly an entire month spent in a virtual game. Other answers included 200 hours, 150 hours, and 300 hours from differing parties. As stated, these people are all fellow students who spend hundreds of hours on the game.

Money spent is money wasted as I like to say, so how much exactly do people tend to spend on a video game like Genshin Impact? “$40,” speculates Fernando, “$100,” says Frank, and “an amount I’m not proud of,” says Chris. Absolutely terrifying results from current students. Not including Chris, an alumni of FHS, the others range from 9th to 12th grade. Other students, other people which you pass in the hallway every day are inches from spending hundreds of dollars at the click of a button every day. Regardless of age, spending an exorbitant amount of money on a free game in and of itself is counter intuitive.

While opinions of people who play the game every day are insightful, I feel the opinions of someone who is friends with people deep in the culture would be a purposeful look from an outside perspective. Brendan Perez, an 11th grad student here at FHS, has many friends who play Genshin Impact regularly, “Of course I know people who play Genshin,” Brenden states, almost as if I asked a rhetorical question. “100% they are addicted, they cannot go a day without playing it,” Brendan responded when asked if he believed his friends were addicted to the game. When I asked Brendan if he thinks the game has had a positive or negative impact on his friends he responded very quickly and concisely, “Negatively, they cannot even tell someone honestly that they play the game. They get really nervous, and they don’t know what to say when someone asks what games they play.”

While I personally believe that gambling should never have a place amongst a hobby immensely popular with children, modern companies will frequently choose profit over morals. And while I have stated many negative traits of the game throughout this article, I must concede the point that the game is fun. The game play is intuitive, the story is interesting, the art is mesmerizing and I could fall asleep to the music, it’s so good. The game is honestly incredibly well made, and there is an obvious passion behind the project that is clear even in the advertisement artwork. It is just a shame that there is such a large part of the game that surrounds unlocking these characters through a makeshift slot machine. Genshin Impact is a game with boatloads of content to complete, an entire world to explore, and stories to listen to. But if you just want to win big with virtual video game characters through monetary transactions, may the odds ever be in your favor, because mixing gambling and video games is a dangerous endeavor.

*Certain Names were changed for privacy reasons.