2022/06/11

Normalizing Player Surveillance through Video Game Infographics

Deathloop (2021) infographic.
The journal New Media & Society has just published my article Normalizing Player Surveillance through Video Game Infographics. I argue that infographics contribute to normalization of surveillance by presenting one-sided representations of proprietary player data, which cannot be corroborated and which are made to look less problematic by focusing on harmless trivia. The infographic format is intended to make game metrics more appealing and to show telemetries as sources of fun facts. In reality, telemetries are used for optimization of game development and monetization of player activity, serving the economic agendas of developers and publishers. The specialized press is complicit in this normalization of player surveillance by running stories based on selective disclosures of proprietary data. The empirical analysis of 200 infographics suggests that the deliberate omission of more problematic and sensitive metrics points to the industry awareness of the potentially controversial nature of player surveillance if disclosed in full. Video game companies are extracting value from player behavior, yet portray the surveillance aparatus as a source of harmless fun facts.

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