New white paper calls for further examination of gaming data collection
A recently released white paper called for a much deeper examination of the gaming industry in terms of data collection and privacy. The paper compares games to social media, dating apps or search engines in terms of the level of data collected on players and their habits.
What does this new article reveal about collecting gambling data?
This new document is titled “Surveilling the Gamers: Privacy Impacts of the Video Game Industry”. The papers abstract suggests that gaming devices “pose a serious threat to consumer privacy”. According to the authors of the article – experts from the Technical University of Berlin, the University of Victoria and the Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society – the “granularity and enormous scale” of the data collection require further examination of the gaming industry. The paper discusses how gaming data can be used to influence political beliefs, incentivize gamers to purchase content in games, and stimulate demand for real products.
The paper cites a particularly frightening example of data inference, in which companies infer things about you based on the data they collect. Using 435 in-game parameters such as character class, race, gender, and combat stats, a study was able to predict the age of 53% of their sample size. World of warcraft players with only a five-year margin of error. Another study was able to infer self-reported gender identity for Guild Wars 2 players with 83% accuracy using similar settings. There are literally hundreds of different metrics that businesses can use to not only collect data about you, but also to infer who you might be based on that data.
Later, the paper discusses the impact of gaming hardware sensors on data collection. While it “cannot fully cover the variety of sensors” used in gaming hardware, it does indicate a method by which the orientation of the user’s fingers, the spacing of the fingers, and even the locations of the fingers. Joint joints can be detected simply by input on the touchpad. In essence, the thesis of the article is this: You are being watched all the time while you are gaming, and companies are constantly collecting data about you and using it to infer who you might be and what your habits are.
What does the new gaming data collection document conclude?
The authors of Surveilling the Gamers say their intention was to provide a comprehensive overview of data collection classifications to help lawmakers and their fellow researchers collect data and make decisions. According to the newspaper, there is “a long way to go” when it comes to transparency in data handling, and no user should expect their privacy to be “protected or even respected” when playing games.
As a player, unfortunately, as it stands, you are pretty much powerless. The document postulates that “only technologically advanced NGOs, research institutes and government agencies” are sufficiently equipped to provide long-term solutions to this problem. Without withdrawing from the general conditions of play – and therefore often denying you the right to actually play the game – you agree to transmit this data by the simple act of playing. We hope the document will prove useful to lawmakers and others when it comes to resolving this issue.
What do you think about the extent of data collection in games? Let us know in the comments below!