Enclosures at Play: Surveillance in the Code and Culture of Videogames

Alex Dean Cybulski


By analyzing the software used on Microsoft’s Xbox 360 to monitor and track player’s behavior in videogames, this paper demonstrates that the platform has appropriated elements of visibility related to the code and culture of videogames to create a surveillant videogame console.  Analyzing elements common to the code of videogames we can understand that certain components of games have always relied on surveillant elements which facilitate interactive play. Similarly the early history of videogames in arcades has afforded a culture of visibility to videogames which has persisted in their design at the level of code.  This paper demonstrates how these sociotechnical artifacts common to videogames have been deployed in systems of datamining, tracking and play on the Xbox 360 and in doing so, offers perspectives for critiquing these systems.

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