Gamgard works by examining the structural and situational characteristics or 'risk factors' that constitute the psychologically rewarding aspects of the game, and responsible gaming features that can directly influence how a game is played.
Structural characteristics are typically those features of a game that are responsible for reinforcement, may satisfy gamblers' needs and may (for some ‘vulnerable’ players) facilitate excessive gambling. By identifying particular structural characteristics it is possible to see how needs are identified, to see how information about gambling is perceived, and to see how thoughts about gambling are influenced. Showing the existence of such relationships has great practical importance as potentially ‘risky’ forms of gambling can be identified.
Situational characteristics are typically those that get people to gamble in the first place. These characteristics are primarily features of the environment and can be considered the situational determinants of gambling. Some situational characteristics overlap with structural characteristics. For example, the accessibility of the gambling activity can determine both the ease with which a game is accessed (situational) as well as how the game appears, and is experienced (structural).
Responsible gaming features may in some cases directly influence how players play an actual game. For example, behavioural feedback that alerts players of risky changes in their playing profile, the use of pop-up warnings, player defined time and spending limits can all directly impact player behavior. These are distinct from more generic responsible gaming features, that while still useful, may not directly impact a specific game risk. For example, education about playing responsibly, self-exclusion for people who may already have problems etc.
Gamgard allows game developers and responsible gaming staff to easily identify these characteristics and determine the extent to which each one has an effect on the overall risk rating of the game. By examining each characteristic in this way it is possible to build a game that falls within acceptable tolerances, or to adapt elements of an existing game.
Gamgard displays the results in three bands: low risk (green), medium risk (yellow) and high risk (red). A classification of red does not mean that a game should be scrapped but indicates that there are elements of it that need modifying, or additional responsible gaming features need to be put in place (e.g., limit the availability or spend limit of a game).
Gamgard is easy to use by anyone who has access to the specific features of a particular game (e.g., time it takes to play, prize-back percentage etc.), and access to our secure website. The necessary figures are inputted onto our interactive model for instant results. Parameters can then be changed to observe the overall effect on the risk rating. All data can be saved and printed to provide documentation of the entire process.
Gamgard is updated regularly to take into account any new developments in research and/or gambling technology, and as such allows a gaming company to be as informed as is possible about the potential impact of a game based on its design characteristics. However, problem gambling is a complicated psychological and social issue and whilst such measures can help to minimize harm to vulnerable individuals, they can never prevent everyone from engaging in excessive patterns of gambling behavior. Gamgard specifically focuses upon the design characteristics of the game itself, and should always be used in conjunction with an overall responsible gaming strategy that considers the broader context in which any particular game is offered.
1 Any person with either a biological, psychological / emotional pre-disposition to gamble excessively, or for those players whose personal circumstances may put them at a greater risk of developing gambling problems (e.g., low income individuals, those with co-morbid disorders, recovering problem gamblers etc.)