Video games with Facial Recognition Technology

Are your favorite video games spying on you?

For this week’s On Topic, we are looking at arguably one of our favorite forms of digital entertainment:video games. Recent developments suggest that many big game developers are now installing networks of surveillance and control within their games. Referring to a recent article published in the WIRED by Ben Egliston titled “The Unnerving Rise of Video Games that Spy on You”, tech conglomerate Tencent announced last year that they would be complying with the Chinese government’s directive to include facial recognition into their games to monitor and regulate the amount of time that minors spend playing these games. 

Recent research suggests that some of our favorite video game developers like EA and Activision may also be collecting personal user data to gain insights into player psychologies and create new revenue streams. While such data is being used to capitalize player attention, their likes and dislikes, it is also being used to drive targeted advertising. 

The data from video game interaction is also being used beyond just the video game industry to create unfair gamified systems in other digital environments such as Insurance apps and even Amazon’s infamous attempts to gamify labor for its workers to keep up with the ‘Amazon Pace.’ What is at stake here is not just the non-consensual extraction of our personal data, but also that data is being used to further manipulate us even outside of gameplay environments. This shows us the need to think more critically about video games as mechanisms for extraction and accumulation and means to negotiate such a deal.

CODE 2022 Open call

When talking about the collection and use of personal data: what are our digital rights? How can we regulate big tech companies, curb their power, and protect our digital rights? What role should governments play, and how can we make them understand the urgency to act? What can we as concerned citizens, researchers, and artists do to support this process?

These important questions are central to the project CODE, and you can join the discussion about these issues! Currently we accept applications for the CODE 2022 open call: selected participants will collaborate in a series of events, including 2 workshops, a symposium and a social hackaton to engage in dialogue, critical discussion, and artistic intervention with artists, non-artists, politicians, policy makers and researchers. The results will be exhibited in an online gallery space meant to engage continuous critical discussion. We will also allow participants to present the produced works and concepts in the public realm to stir debate and foster change.

Read more and apply: 

CODE 2022 is organized by IMPAKT in collaboration with School of Machines, Making & Make Believe (Berlin), Werktank (Leuven) and Privacy Salon/Privacytopia (Brussels/Antwerp).


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