Leon Xiao | Keywords in Play, Episode 15

“Keywords in Play” is an interview series about game research supported by Critical Distance and the Digital Games Research Association.

This episode we speak with Leon Xiao about the paper “What are the odds? Lower compliance with Western loot box probability disclosure industry self-regulation than Chinese legal regulation”, co-authored with Laura Henderson and Philip Newall. This empirical study of loot boxes and probability disclosure is (as of this interview) a preprint and hence subject to change during peer-review. The current version is available here: https://osf.io/g5wd9/

Leon is a Teaching Associate at Queen Mary University of London. He researches video game law, particularly the regulation of loot boxes, a quasi-gambling monetisation mechanic in video games. He has appeared before the Law Commission of England and Wales, and submitted policy recommendations to the Spanish, Singaporean, and UK Governments. His research has been published in peer-reviewed law, psychology, and behavioural public policy journals. He has presented at conferences in various disciplines, including at DiGRA Australia, British DiGRA, and the Chinese chapter of DiGRA. He won the poster prize for student research at the 2020 annual conference of the Society for the Study of Addiction. A full list of his publications is available at https://sites.google.com/view/leon-xiao/.


As a joint venture, “Keywords in Play” expands Critical Distance’s commitment to innovative writing and research about games while using a conversational style to bring new and diverse scholarship to a wider audience.

Our goal is to highlight the work of graduate students, early career researchers and scholars from under-represented groups, backgrounds and regions. The primary inspiration comes from sociologist and critic Raymond Williams. In the Preface to his book Keywords: a vocabulary of culture and society, Williams envisaged not a static dictionary but an interactive document, encouraging readers to populate blank pages with their own keywords, notes and amendments. “Keywords in Play” follows Williams in affirming that “The significance is in the selection”, and works towards diversifying the critical terms with which we describe games and game culture.

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Production Team: Darshana Jayemanne, Zoyander Street, Emilie Reed, Bettina Bodi.

Audio Direction and Engineering: Damian Stewart

Double Bass: Aaron Stewart

Transcription: Charly Harbord