SPOS #880 – Adrian Hon On How Gamification Might Ruin Us All

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Welcome to episode #880 of Six Pixels of Separation – The ThinkersOne Podcast.

Here it is: Six Pixels of Separation – The ThinkersOne Podcast – Episode #880. In a world where games are no longer just a source of entertainment, we find ourselves in a precarious situation. Warehouse workers are pitted against each other in virtual dragon races, their jobs hanging in the balance. Exhausted Uber drivers are baited with challenges to keep them on the road. Citizens in China are scored to ensure good behavior, and games with in-app purchases cleverly use achievements to drain your finances. In his lastest book, You’ve Been Played, game designer Adrian Hon exposes the insidious use of games and gamification as tools of exploitation by corporations, schools, and governments. These aren’t optional games, but ones we’re compelled to play, where losing carries severe consequences. Adrian’s work is a powerful critique of a tech-centric world that attempts to mask misery as fun. It’s a rallying cry for those who wish to retain their dignity and autonomy in a world increasingly dominated by coercive gamification. As the CEO and founder of Six to Start, he has co-created the world’s most successful smartphone fitness game, Zombies, Run! His innovative approach to game design has led to other award-winning games such as We Tell Stories, which has been recognized at SXSW and showcased at prestigious venues like MOMA and the Design Museum. His previous book, A New History of the Future in 100 Objects, was published in 2020. Adrian also shares his insights on games through a monthly column for EDGE magazine. His journey in the gaming industry began at Mind Candy, where he served as Director of Play from 2004 to 2007. During his tenure, he designed and produced the Perplex City alternate reality game. His fascination with ARGs started in 2001 when he moderated the Cloudmakers community for The Beast, an ARG for Steven Spielberg’s A.I. His academic background is as diverse as his professional one. He studied Natural Sciences at Cambridge, with a focus on experimental psychology and neuroscience. He even started a neuroscience degree at Oxford in 2003, but his passion for gaming led him to leave after a year to join Mind Candy. His journey is a testament to his belief in the power of games and their potential to shape our future (in both good and terrible ways). Enjoy the conversation…

Download the Podcast here: Six Pixels of Separation – The ThinkersOne Podcast – Episode #880.

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