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Adrian Hons You’ve Been Played: How Businesses, Governments, and Schools Are Using Games to Control Us All does something I like to do with books. It leads me to ask questions that are not addressed in the text. I like it when I can go for mental tangents; thinking about things and making connections that I might not otherwise make.
I grew up around the time when people like attorney Jack Thompson were in the news railing against video games. Thompson and his contemporaries argued that video games made gamers violent and blamed video games for school shootings.
Thompson himself, not yet disqualified, gained his early fame with a lawsuit on behalf of the parents of three victims of the Heath High School shooting. Back then, he didn’t just blame video games; he also hated violent music, movies, and porn.
But in the decade that followed, Thompson seemed to focus more on video games. The guy seemed particularly interested in Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto series.
At the end of things after Thompson had his license revoked. Over the years that Thompson has been active, it has always felt like his actions and rhetoric did the opposite of what he intended. He claimed that video games made people violent and that they trained players to handle and use guns.
It doesn’t matter what he wanted, because the industry resisted him. Furthermore, actual studies disproved his claims. The guy wasn’t wrong, he was demonstrably wrong. And in its wrongness, we all accepted that video games don’t make people violent.
But I wonder if we didn’t convince ourselves of something afterwards; that video games have no effect on players at all. I wonder if our own hubris got us to where we are now.
Adrian Hons you were played
Adrian Hon is many things. He is the founder and CEO of Six to Start. He is a game developer who worked on Zombies, Run!, a mobile practice game. He studied neuroscience at the University of Cambridge, the University of Oxford and the University of California.
He is also an author. Hon’s latest work is You’ve Been Played: How Businesses, Governments, and Schools Are Using Games to Control Us All. And from what I’ve read, at least, he’s at least somewhat anti-capitalist and pro-union.
“Gamification of video games can make them more enjoyable, but more often than not it leads to unwanted grinds and compulsive behaviors,” Hon writes. Should we be surprised? After all, that is capitalism.”
These feelings are only a small part of the whole. you were played wanders through the history of gamification; how the earliest practices became what we have today. How it started out as a way to better ourselves and the world around us, but mutated into something more grotesque.
you were played is simply a fascinating insight into the gamification world. It shows in detail that we are not as immune to the effects of video games as we might think. Sure, it’s true that video games don’t turn us into violent sociopaths. But it is clear that we are not immune to other effects.
It not only focuses on the gaming industry side, but shows how even modern politically motivated movements are influenced by gamification. The book offers both scathing indictments of current practices and possible solutions to make things kinder and tastier.
you were played reads like an interesting lecture by a favorite professor. A few more pages and Hon hooks you by making it personal and keeping those hooks all the way. It’s not just bullet points in a research paper, it’s a perspective – his Perspective. It’s not just about the gaming industry, but the industry plays an important role in his reasoning. How could it not?
He warns the reader of the real, palpable dangers of where we are right now. About what he sees and what could happen in the future. He talks about how we could change things.
I just hope he’s not the Cassandra of our industry.
You’ve Been Played: How Corporations, Governments, and Schools Use Games to Control Us All is available now on Amazon and other retailers. Basic Books provided a copy of the book for this review.
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