Are Your Video Game Systems Snooping On You?

This will make you long for the days when you could just slide quarters into cocktail table arcade games and not have to worry that your personal privacy is compromised. Video game companies are using your playing and purchasing habits to track information about you. While they say it’s just for marketing purposes, the depth of their knowledge about you might make you cringe.

When Did the Surveillance Start?

It all began in 2005, with the advent of the Xbox 360. If you recall playing any of the original Xbox 360 games, you know how the system started to shift from simply celebrating high scores to celebrating gaming achievements. For instance, if you didn’t just beat a level, but beat it expertly, you gained a trophy or achievement, marked by a happy “ping” sound on your screen. The idea was to reward players for not only conquering a game, but for the style in which they played. This would encourage them to keep coming back and replaying games over and over again.

The data on how a player excels is one aspect, but as gamers began to connect to the Internet and make purchases, gaming companies had a lot more information to draw on. Then the WiiFit was introduced, and the gaming systems began storing information on player’s height, weight, fitness level and more.

What Do They Know?

Today, even if you don’t use a video game system frequently, chances are you use your smartphone, even if all you play is Candy Crush or Angry Birds. And when you authorize certain apps, even just a simple game, many ask you to authorize location tracking or use of the camera.

Sure, this somewhat intrusive data mining could be harmless. Many companies, such as Ubisoft, claim that all of the data collected on their customers are simply used internally for targeted demographic marketing purposes. They claim to have strict privacy firewalls surrounding the data on their customers, but it doesn’t hurt to take extra precautions.

If you are uncomfortable with an app constantly knowing where you are as well as having your credit card number, delete it from your phone. Keep control of your privacy settings and protect your identity – you only have one.