Surveilling the Gamers: Privacy Impacts of the Video Game Industry

23 Pages Posted: 8 Jul 2021 Last revised: 12 Jul 2021

See all articles by Jacob Leon Kröger

Jacob Leon Kröger

Technische Universität Berlin; Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society

Philip Raschke

Technische Universität Berlin

Jessica Percy Campbell

University of Victoria

Stefan Ullrich

Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society

Date Written: July 6, 2021

Abstract

With many million users across all age groups and income levels, video games have become the world’s leading entertainment industry. Behind the fun experience they provide, it goes largely unnoticed that modern game devices pose a serious threat to consumer privacy. To illustrate the industry’s potential for illegitimate surveillance and user profiling, this paper offers a classification of data types commonly gathered by video games. Drawing from patents and literature of diverse disciplines, we also discuss how patterns and correlations in collected gameplay data may leak additional information in ways not easily understood or anticipated by the user. This includes inferences about a user’s biometric identity, age and gender, emotions, skills, interests, consumption habits, and personality traits. Based on these findings, we argue that video games need to be brought into the focus of privacy research and discourse. Considering the granularity and enormous scale of the data collection taking place, this industry deserves the same level of scrutiny as other digital services, such as search engines, dating apps, or social media platforms. The knowledge compiled in this paper can serve as a basis for privacy impact assessments, consumer education, and further research into the societal impact of video games.

Keywords: Video game, Privacy, Surveillance, Behavioral analysis, Data mining, Inference

Suggested Citation

Kröger, Jacob Leon and Raschke, Philip and Percy Campbell, Jessica and Ullrich, Stefan, Surveilling the Gamers: Privacy Impacts of the Video Game Industry (July 6, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3881279 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3881279

Jacob Leon Kröger (Contact Author)

Technische Universität Berlin

Straße des 17. Juni 135
Berlin, 10623
Germany

Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society

Hardenbergstraße 32
Berlin, 10623
Germany

Philip Raschke

Technische Universität Berlin ( email )

Straße des 17
Juni 135
Berlin, 10623
Germany

Jessica Percy Campbell

University of Victoria ( email )

3800 Finnerty Rd
Victoria, British Columbia V8P 5C2
Canada

Stefan Ullrich

Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society ( email )

Berlin
Germany

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