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Dark design patterns and gamified lives who plays whom?
29 November 2022 18:30 - 20:00
29th November – The video game industry is consolidating a business model that transitions from the direct purchase of the video game to the so-called ‘video game as a service’ and the free video game that monetizes through the sale of user data, advertising revenue and micropayments through in-game purchases. The new business models are moving from strategies that require the video game to be purchased by as many users as possible, to strategies that require users to stay connected for as long as possible. This affects the very design of video games, which increasingly integrate obscure design patterns in order to maximize profits. These patterns are strategies and techniques devised to make players spend more time than they would like in the video game, or spend more than they intended to spend on it. Some examples of them are periodic rewards that force us to enter the game constantly if we do not want to miss them, being forced to watch ads in order to play or to get rewards, collections to complete, progress bars, variable rewards…
This means that the change in the business model implies changes in the videogames themselves, which are less and less made for us to play with them, and more to play with us. This is detrimental to the quality of video games, which are increasingly composed more by teams of behavioral psychologists than by programmers, designers or narrative designers.
But these dark patterns do not remain only in video games, but permeate every aspect of our lives in what sociologist Daniel Muriel calls the “videoludification of reality”. Video games, beyond being a mere object of leisure or consumption, have an impact on reality by structuring it on the basis of game mechanics, imbricated in digital processes that have a clear effect and repercussion on our analog lives. Thus, through gamification, digital surveillance is further encouraged, while behaviors are modeled through neoliberal governance models under the false promise of making our daily lives more fun. But what is at stake, however, are our bodies, our behaviors, both as individuals and collectively.
Address: Espai Societat Oberta (C/Sant Eusebi, 29 Barcelona)