Want to Play?

The article we read by Jennifer Whitson focused on how gamification of the quantified self can constantly adjust one’s daily lifestyle to adapt to a “better” life as seen by the designer. Whitson references Nike+ as one of the quantified self apps that allows the user to track their workout routine and observe the quality of their health throughout their day. By accessing this information and creating visualizations of this data, the user can then interpret this to find ways to get closer to the goals that the app has created for them. This use of the person’s data is not seen as surveillance in a negative way because people view this as an attempt to help them become healthier. However, there is no serious delineation between the surveillance of Nike tracking your phone for “workouts” and the government tracking things such as your phone to know where the phone and user are. This poses a serious question to viewers that if we allow apps like these? She does not delve into this divide because she feels it is a slippery slope, but is very important for viewers to consider these similarities.

Whitson also addresses how gamification is only applicable if the person is actively interested in the game. She says, “for it to be experienced as play, everyone needs to be a willing participant”. This thought as well as her belief that “rules are locally situated and constructed by the participants” provides the possibility of reverse analyzing this, to find out what games we are playing subconsciously, in our everyday lives? After reading this we realized that things such as weighing in after a meal or such, was still some form of a game that we would have never considered.

Where do we draw the line on how much we want to be tracked versus what that tracking can give us access to? Also, so much of our life is about a quantified-self game, when do we get to stop playing, or do we even really have control over the game anymore?