Buy a PC Gamer-approved product every day this week and you get reward points. You’ve levelled up, now you’re a PCG Ambassador, so you get a PCG fan kit. Meanwhile, your health insurance is incentivising you to walk as it’s worried about your heart rate, and a tobacco firm is incentivising you not to read The Guardian because of its coverage of cancer risk. You get an achievement from the local council for not giving money to a tramp, and your eyetracking device is giving you bonus points for reading every line of an advert (but not the small print). It’s a nightmare and it’s coming.
What no one is mentioning is a crash, a bubble bursting. There’s a risk that social gaming could collapse overnight. Yet this is unlikely, because the place where it’s based, Facebook, is now so central to our lives. Instead, social gaming is spilling out virally into the world, and its effectiveness in altering our behaviour means it’s soon going to be affecting you in ways you may not even notice.