The lights are on
Veteran Member - Level 11
As an avid gamer and someone who has tinkered in the realm
of video game development I am fascinated with the mechanics behind level
design, map construction and the quality control measures used to evaluate the product
from production to implementation. In short order, I like the nuts and bolts of
So, when I read the article in the September 2010 issue of
Game Informer titled "The Lab Rats" by Annette Gonzalez, I was...simply put...fascinated.
If you are remotely interested in video game development and the measures
companies go to in order to test and evaluate their creation, the article is
definitely worth reading. I've read it no less than 5 times, I liked it that
For the record, I try not to make a habit out of using other
people's material as the source of my blog, and for the most part I'm not...but
definitely a big part of tonight's blog was inspired by the Game Informer
article. Inspired by...yes...but this blog is going to take a bit of a different
approach and talk about how much visibility the game industry has on our online
Clearly, this issue will primarily deal with online games
and if that translates to First Person Shooters...so be it. The point is, if the
companies can do this with FPS games, then chances are they can monitor any
game that is connected to the Internet. In fact, one of the things I will
mention from the article is derived from Blur, the racing game.
Before I jump in, let me give you a bit of the background...
In Annette's article, she discusses a "heat map", a "kill
map" and "collision data".
A heat map shows the movement of players and vehicles, which
can be used to show where most of the activity is taking place and allow the
game developers to tweak the map as needed; a kill map shows a dot where players
were killed and a connecting line to the player who killed them, which allows
the game developers to identify potential unbalanced areas that promote camping or other undesirable behavior;
and the collision data used from the racing game Blur shows spots on the race
track where cars consistently run into the walls, potentially identifying track
When you think about "big brother" (in this case the game
developers) tracking your every movement...well, that's pretty impressive if you
ask me. It makes me wonder how much visibility do the game developers have on
our online activity. And not only how much, but what kind of data are they able
If you think about it from a First Person Shooter
perspective, consider the amount of data that is collected, processed and
stored for every single player that logs on. For a game like Modern Warfare 2,
we're talking millions of people. Every day! That's remarkable.
Shots fired. Weapon used. Kill/Death ratio. Maps played. How
long you play on each map. Just to name a few of the more commonly viewed
Who knows how many different variables are recorded...and then
when you add in capabilities like heat maps and kill maps, it would seem that
the game developers could very easily track your every movement, your every
action, your every everything. If a heat map and kill map is capable of logging
a position, it wouldn't seem like that far of a stretch to imagine that they
can also associate a specific user to that position.
It makes you wonder (or at least makes me wonder) just how
close is Big Brother watching...and what are they doing with all that data?