In a new interview with The Washington Post, U.S. presidential candidate Andrew Yang spoke on various current issues within the video games industry, including loot boxes, video game addiction, and Blizzard banning competitive Hearthstone player Blitzchung for sharing his support for the Hong Kong protesters during a live tournament. Yang identifies as a “former gamer” himself.
On loot boxes, he believes that U.S. gamers deserve “clear guidelines and disclosure of the economics of loot boxes” and calls upon game developers to be more transparent with their players. Yang argued that players should be empowered “to express their economic preferences up front.” He acknowledged that it’s “perfectly understandable” for companies to seek more money from their customers, but believes the odds of loot boxes should be clearly disclosed for the benefit of the customer.
Yang spoke next about the current controversies surrounding U.S. companies and their business relationships with China, following situations like Blizzard punishing Blitzchung for speaking out against China. Many believe that U.S. companies are prioritizing business with China over human rights, including U.S. Congress members who published a joint letter calling upon Blizzard to reverse their decision. As a tech investor, Yang understands the difficultly of these decisions companies must make “because of the globalized nature of the industry.” He continued, “These [decisions] are from companies who have historically not been excited about having any government hand in their industries. It just goes to show we’re putting more and more companies into untenable positions.”
As far as gaming addiction goes, Yang believes it’s a serious problem receiving very little attention. When it does receive attention—generally in terms of whether gaming influences real-life influence—Yang finds it unhelpful. “No one ever talks about unless it’s in the context of violence, and even then you just get some hand wringing behind it,” he said, after comparing it to U.S. lawmakers misunderstanding how Facebook works.
Overall, Yang considers games “intrinsic to the human experience” and “a natural evolution” for humanity. He has a generally positive outlook on video games, believing it has “vast potential…to serve not just for our entertainment, but for other positive things.”