Video Games and Big Data: Promises and Risks
Video gaming is growing steadily in society: 54 percent of Canadians now engage in it. Once a pastime limited mainly to teenagers, video games have become a mass medium that takes various forms. And with each new game, a new gamer community arises.
Coinciding with this explosion in online video gaming, the phenomenon of “big data”—which refers to the capture, storage and automatic processing of large data sets through application software—has taken hold in a number of fields. The video gaming industry is interested in these analytical techniques, and is exploring data sets related to gamers’ behaviours. This makes gamers vulnerable to activities that could invade their privacy.
In this context, Dr. Maude Bonenfant, Canada Research Chair in Gamer Communities and Big Data, is seeking a better understanding of the issues surrounding the use of big data in video gaming. The social sciences are behind in studying this subject, which holds numerous epistemological, methodological, technical and ethical challenges.
Bonenfant and her research team are helping to produce new knowledge on this subject as well as on the surveillance dynamics in the video game sector. They are also developing an innovative research methodology—for use in both research and the Canadian video game industry—that takes advantage of big data analytics while helping to preserve gamers’ privacy.