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You've Been Played: How Corporations, Governments, and Schools Use Games to Control Us All (Hardcover)
How games are being harnessed as instruments of exploitation—and what we can do about it
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. China scores its citizens so they behave well, and games with in-app purchases use achievements to empty your wallet.
Points, badges, and leaderboards are creeping into every aspect of modern life. 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. 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.
About the Author
Adrian Hon is the CEO and founder of independent games developer Six to Start and the co-creator of Zombies, Run! He previously studied neuroscience at the University of Cambridge, the University of Oxford, and the University of California, San Diego. He lives in Edinburgh, UK.
“You’ve Been Played not only catalogues the rise of a sinister and pervasive trend, it also functions as a primer on the psychological and philosophical implications of games themselves… This expansive, fascinating study, equal parts dismal and dizzying in its implications, is a valuable testament to the era we’re in, and an aid for unravelling the spirit of competition that runs through our culture, and which we are so often sold as self worth.”—Irish Independent
“Game designer Adrian Hon delivers part searing social indictment and part psychological deep dive in You’ve Been Played, a book about the gamification of our everyday. It’s a fascinating, if at times rather dire, read.”
"Illuminating and persuasive."—New York Times Book Review
“This passionate survey is a wake up call for workers and political leaders alike.”
“[Hon's] well researched book peels back the layers on how corporations, app creators, schools, and workplaces are tricking people into completing tasks or offering private information with the hopes of earning badges, points, and other rewards.”—Booklist
“An expansive view of how gamification permeates modern culture.”—Library Journal
“A must-read examination of the rise of gamification and how technologies that subtly interface directly with our minds are being deployed in ways that are exploitative and dehumanizing.”
—Martin Ford, Martin Ford, New York Times-bestselling author of rise of the Robots
“You’ve Been Played manages to be as addictive, infuriating, and strangely gratifying as the games (and gamification) Adrian Hon writes about. Honestly, reading this book felt like switching on a light: I’ll never be able to look at my smartphone the same way again.”
—Anne Helen Petersen, Anne Helen Petersen, author of Can't Even
“The urgent wake-up call we need to the dangers of the gamification run amok, where manipulation masquerades as fun, and politics and profit are the only real winners. Essential reading for lovers of games, human freedom, and anyone who still believes that playing should be fun.”
—David Sax, David Sax, bestselling author of The Revenge of Analog
“Hon has written a wonderful book about one aspect of our glide towards a soft-lock dystopia, as techniques that were supposed to be cheerleaders and coaches turn out to make more money for their deployers when they are transformed into taskmasters and grifters.”
—J. Bradford DeLong, J. Bradford DeLong, University of California, Berkeley