You've Been Played: How Corporations, Governments, and Schools Use Games to Control Us All
October 9, 2022 10:00 PM   Subscribe

You've Been Played: How Corporations, Governments, and Schools Use Games to Control Us All
My book about gamification is out! You've Been Played (Bookshop.org, Goodreads) examines how points, badges, and leaderboards are creeping into every aspect of modern life as tools for profit and coercion. It’s a critique of gamification, sure – but by an actual game designer, games journalist, and former neuroscientist. And it goes far beyond the usual suspects like Fitbit and Duolingo to look at the historical roots of gamification. Foucault, Lewis Mumford, Skinner, medieval indulgences, Taylorism, ARGs – this book has it all! Reviews, talks, and excerpts inside...

The New York Times (archive): "...Illuminating and persuasive. That Hon is neither Luddite nor scold lends his criticisms of gamification bite and authority."

Irish Independent: "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."

Gizmodo: "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."

Publisher's Weekly (Starred Review): "This passionate survey is a wake up call for workers and political leaders alike."

Anne Helen Petersen: "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."

Mefi's own Jessamyn(!): "How everyone's gamifying everything, mostly poorly, in the service of capitalism. Creating artificial tediums which they then "solve" w/ game mechanics. No one is better to write about this than Adrian Hon. Get it."

Here are some excerpts from the book:

Why gamifying the workplace can be a nightmare for workers (Big Think)
How achievements took over the video game industry (Fast Company)

Interviews and lectures I've given recently:

NYU Game Center Lecture Series Presents Adrian Hon: 90 min talk plus Q&A focusing on exactly why gamification has become so popular, and how it's being used in workplaces. The audio is hard to hear for the first 10 min but gets better after that!

VICE Motherboard: How Corporations and Governments Use Games to Control Us: CYBER Live: 50 min discussion focusing on the psychology and politics of gamification.

KQED: Adrian Hon on the Gamified Life: 50 min interview plus listener Q&A on the book and workplace gamification. Some good listener questions!

BBC Future: Why your life could be part of someone else's game: Feature/interview connecting QAnon and workplace gamification!

NPR: The Indicator from Planet Money: Are you being tricked into working harder?: Speedy 9 min rundown on workplace gamification.

I wrote an original essay for Noema magazine on How Game Design Principles Can Enhance Democracy. And finally, the book exists partly due to my 2020 essay, What ARGs Can Teach Us About QAnon and the positive response it got from Metafilter!
Role: Author
posted by adrianhon (2 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

Congrats! Have added it to my reading list.
posted by COD at 3:15 PM on October 10 [1 favorite]


It's good to be reminded that gamification isn't new, in spite of its current metastization! I have put a hold on it at the library.
posted by ignignokt at 12:45 PM on October 12 [1 favorite]


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