Google Develops Plans To Profile Gamers

    May 14, 2007

Imagine that you’re playing a computer game, and because you slowly sneak up behind an enemy, you’re shown an advertisement for a bank.  Run at the same enemy while wielding a rocket launcher, and you’ll see an ad for a death metal CD.  This is Google’s dream.

Well, more or less – I can’t promise that those exact scenarios will take place.  But an article in The Guardian indicated that the search engine giant is moving in this direction.  “Google has drawn up plans to compile psychological profiles of millions of web users by covertly monitoring the way they play online games,” wrote David Adam and Bobbie Johnson.

The plans are evident in two recent patent filings (one each in America and Europe); they indicate that Google might not only look at “user play” (as imagined in the first paragraph), but also at “user dialogue” – what you would say to another player or non-player character.

Creepy, no?  And some privacy advocates feel the same way, but Search Engine Land’s Bill Slawski noted, “To me, this is just like the Gmail ad debate, which has died down since they first launched.”

The search engine company has also assured gamers that there’s no reason to worry.  “Google said it did not have any plans to roll out the technology in the near future,” testified Adam and Johnson, “and that it was just one of a large number of patents that it has filed in recent months.”

So don’t worry.  Your search engine and email provider – the giant corporation that has the government’s ear – isn’t coming to view you as a homicidal maniac – yet.