DataDealer: Serious Gaming with Data Privacy

Can we educate people about privacy via gaming? DataDealer is an award-winning new game, where a consumer manages the privacy of other people and organizations.

Markets for Good, by Eric J. Henderson, Oct 2013.

DataDealer: Serious Gaming with Data Privacy.

What if we were to turn the tables and have the consumer managing the privacy of other people and organizations? There's a new game in the emerging "serious gaming" genre out that does just that.

Data DealerDataDealer has received extensive feedback from young people, teachers, media educators and the general public. Further, it has won numerous prizes like the e-virtouses Serious Games Award 2013 (France) and the Games for Change Award 2013 (USA).

Wolfie Christl, co-creator, and his project have been featured in the New York Times, Forbes, The New Yorker, and the Washington Post among many other outlets. In this interview, let's take a closer look at the message DataDealer intends about data governance.

Eric J. Henderson, Markets For Good (Eric): You note in your research that, on the individual level, the objective of the game is to strengthen digital competence as the only means of "positive and self-determined use of ICT in the future." In your estimation, how big is our gap in digital competence?

Wolfie Christl, DataDealer (Wolfie): Most of us know that today virtually everything we do is recorded, monitored or tracked in some way: Our web searches, our emails, our phone calls, the places we visit, who we know, how long we work, our financial situation, our consumer behaviour, our political attitudes and much more. We know about it because we're actively sharing much of this information intentionally. We all know that many devices we use today are connected to the Internet.

But I fear that many people don't know so much about are the possible implications of this massive aggregation, processing and exploitation of personal data, which has become part of all areas of life. They don't know so much about the potential and the value of their personal data, when they agree to send every single click to some server farms at the other end of the world.

Eric: What surprised you over the course of the developing the game - about both consumer and organizational behavior?

Wolfie: During the development of "Data Dealer" we always tried to invent new, super-evil business models based on personal data to build it into our game. But the problem was, whenever when we thought we had come up with something really scary, we found out that it was already in practice! Take for example all these devices and apps to track your weight, the steps you do, your heart rate, your sleep quality or even your mood.

In the full version of our game you'll be able to run such a company to collect body and health data about millions of people and directly sell it to health insurance companies. I didn't believe that this is already existing, I thought this is a kind of dystopic idea. But after doing some research I saw that two of the most popular self tracking apps are publicly offering their services to...surprise: health insurance companies. This is a gold mine. There's even a California startup that plans to create a platform for genetic data brokerage. Upload your DNA, get some shady health predictions and allow them to market your genetic profile. Great!

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