You’ve Been Played How Corporations, Governments, and Schools Use Gamification reviewed

We look at this interesting book by gaming developer Adrian Hon, who writes from deep personal experience in the gaming and gamification space. Published on September 8th, see more about this book here.

You’ve Been Played How Corporations, Governments, and Schools Use Gamification, reviewed

Adrian Hon is a good choice to have written this book, and also willing to be honest about some games where he invested too much time and energy on playing them. Much like poachers turned game keepers he has seen the impacts of gamification across many many aspects of life, and then also created some positive applications of gamification to modify people’s behaviour. At the same time Hon takes us on a very interesting journey to assess if and / or when gamification is a good thing, or not.

While many things can be gamified he sagely discusses whether they need to be. He gives a good example of how he does not need the digital versions of books that he is reading to be gamified. Much like when you read a book on a kindle, with the increasing percentage of the book you have completed, this can oftentimes be a negative impact on the pleasure of you reading the book, and also your ability to retain information too.

Hon raises important questions, that need go be asked. Especially as it is multinational, uncountable corporations who are gamifying our lives, and it is not for our better interests. Thought provoking examples from Amazon, Barclays and China are all discussed, and it is very much another aspect of the Pandora’s box which we have opened, without an awareness of the unintended negative consequences it could well bring us. We would highly recommend reading this book for everyone and anyone to read this book.

Delighted to announce my new book critiquing gamification YOU’VE BEEN PLAYED will be out Sept 20th, via @BasicBooks!

I’ve spent the past three years researching how games are being harnessed as instruments of exploitation – and this is the result.

— Adrian Hon (@adrianhon) January 17, 2022

More about the book

From gaming industry insider and Six to Start founder: How gamification has become the twenty-first century’s most advanced form of behavioural control

Warehouse workers pack boxes while a virtual dragon races across their screen. If they beat their colleagues, they get an award. If not, they can be fired.
Uber presents exhausted drivers with challenges to keep them driving.
Schools across the world are using surveillance programmes and leaderboards to monitor children’s attention and behaviour and feed this back to parents.
Games with in-app purchases use achievements to empty your wallet.
China scores its citizens so they behave well, and punishes low scores with real-life consequences

More about the author

Adrian Hon spent the last decade making one of the most popular gamified apps in the world – Zombies, Run!  You might expect him to be the first person to spread the gospel of gamification. Yet today, nothing concerns him more.

Gamification should be a delight – we all choose to play video games, board games, sports and more in our spare time.  But as Hon shows in this book, gamification has spread into many areas of our lives – and it’s increasingly being used by employers and governments to monitor and control behaviour.

On the surface, gamification seems fun, helpful and engaging. However for many it’s becoming a source of anxiety and misery.

In You’ve Been Played game designer Adrian Hon delivers a blistering takedown of how corporations, schools and governments use games and gamification as tools for profit and coercion. These are games that we often have no choice but to play, where losing has heavy penalties.

Hon asks why and how games are being used in this way, and what it’s doing to us as a society – from the use of games in dating apps and how it’s transforming the way we form relationships, to how conspiracy theorists employ gamification techniques to keep us hooked.

You’ve Been Played is a scathing indictment of a tech-driven world that wants to convince us that misery is fun, and a call to arms for anyone who hopes to preserve their dignity and autonomy.

Adrian Hon is the CEO and founder of games developer Six to Start. He is the co-creator of Zombies, Run, an immersive running game with 10 million players. Adrian previously studied neuroscience at the University of Cambridge, the University of Oxford, and the University of California at San Diego. He is the author of A History of the Future in 100 Objects, a columnist for EDGE magazine, and has written about technology for The Telegraph. He lives in Edinburgh, UK

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