University of Birmingham > Talks@bham > Computer Security Seminars > Playing at control: writing surveillance in/for gamified society

Playing at control: writing surveillance in/for gamified society

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Isra Ahmed.

Gamification has entrenched constant monitoring throughout society. From education to work to shopping, our activities are tracked, our progress is monitored and rewards are meted out. But this enforced acceptance of constant surveillance constructs a social narrative in which privacy ceases to exist, and the technological tools at work can easily be shifted from reward to control. This is furthered through the shift from a panopticon model of power and the threat of surveillance to the complete protocological surveillance enabled by embedded devices, data centres and machine learning. It is no longer the case that anything we do might be surveilled; we can be fairly certain that everything we do probably is being monitored, judged and recorded. How can we negotiate these changing narratives? Of what fictions do we convince ourselves when we play the ‘game’ called digital society? This talk uses the literary work of Cory Doctorow, Charles Stross, Dave Eggers and Ernest Cline to assess how fiction can act as thought experiments for the social conditions of surveillance technologies. Through stories such as Halting State and Walkaway, we explore the collisions between the control-based society of tech companies and the disciplinary structures of traditional states – the points of tension between illusions of freedom, guided game paths and the exercise of power over users’ data and behaviours. The article argues for expanding our perspectives on the reach of game analysis to the broader connected networks of cultural and political systems, to assess ways of responding to the idea that we are being played with, turned into characters in the gamified narratives of control-based surveillance societies.

This talk is part of the Computer Security Seminars series.

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