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Working paper from Digital Rhetoric, instructor Dr. Jim Zappen, Fall 2013

Abstract: Video games are an example of a tethered appliance. Starting with the latest generation of consoles (Xbox One and Play Station 4), service providers can make minute and remote changes to the gaming platform and simultaneously collect millions of pieces of user data. This “tethered” part of the new consoles sparked massive debates among American gamers concerned about their privacy and consumer rights, and it led to some allowances from the company, such as the removal of their “always on” stipulation. After a careful consideration of the video games industry and video game culture, this paper will argue that big data analytics are changing how consumers interact with service providers, which creates a set of potential problems. This industry’s use of big data analytics reveal patterns which affect society more broadly. Big data can provide positive contributions to gaming by inspiring new opportunities for player agency, expanding game mechanics, and allowing novel narrative moments. Yet, games are also a place where big data’s flaws are exposed, from abuses in player profiling, violations of privacy, and the unequal access to information. By discussing and uncovering these emerging problems, the implementation of future analytic technologies can be monitored by consumers and users to protect their interests in the political struggle over data and information.

Keywords: big data, video games, authorship, narrative, ludology, privacy, access rights

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