My kids are mad about their Xbox 360s and spend way too much time on them. Most of the time they simply enjoy playing their games and interacting with their friends but, sometimes, they have spells where they just go all out to get as many achievements as they can.
Now, according to a patent that has recently been published, Microsoft may be about to offer up achievements or other rewards in return for specific tv viewing habits.
The AWARDS AND ACHIEVEMENTS ACROSS TV ECOSYSTEM patent kicks off with this as its first claim,
“1. A method for awarding a user, comprising: receiving a user-viewing goal detailing a specific linear video content viewing behavior of the user; receiving one or more user-specific reports of all linear video content viewing behaviors of the user while using each of a plurality of different applications; and granting an award to the user if the user-specific reports collectively indicate the user-viewing goal is reached by the user.”
This worries me on two fronts.
The first, as a parent, is that my kids could have their viewing habits heavily influenced by Microsoft.
My children aren’t stupid but they are pliable in the sense that they like to get as many achievements as possible and won’t see any harm in watching something in order to achieve them. What exactly they may get exposed to as a result is anyone’s guess at the moment.
The second is the whole issue of privacy.
As I mentioned in my previous post, the German data commissioner has expressed concerns over the Xbox One’s Kinect device due to the fact that it could, in theory at least, watch and listen to everything you do. With the Kinect being always on it is possible that Microsoft could be able to collect data about whether or not you really are watching what you are supposed to in order to get your achievement. It could also analyse if you are really paying attention and who in your household is watching what. This would be an absolute goldmine of information for market researchers and one can only wonder what advertising agencies could do with such data.
Considering that the Xbox One is a games console, and so likely to appeal to kids more than adults, I suspect that even if such a scenario requires opting in, many will do so without a second thought to the consequences.
And you know what they say about those who willingly give up their freedom.