Google has filed a patent in the US for a system by which gamers playing habits will be monitored reports UK newspaper ,The Guardian. The move is apparently to enable Google to tailor ads, which appear in game, to an individual’s psychological profile built up from the games they play and how they play them.

The question of in game advertising has long been a contentious one with online titles such as Anarchy Online, and Planetside being some of the first to gain another revenue stream from the sale of in game advertising space. There was controversy last year on the release of EA’s Battlefield 2142 online shooter when customers discovered upon opening the box, that information regarding their location would be shared with a company which served in game ads to the online servers. The controversy was regarding the fact that a piece of software, which was basically spyware, had to be installed on the player’s computer in order for the game to work, if you didn’t agree to this you couldn’t play the game. Of course, once opened, the game could not be returned and the legal information about the additional software was only available once you opened the box.

Google’s patent doesn’t seem to be anything near as sinister as The Guardian would like you to believe. If you are playing an online game like Second Life or World of Warcraft your behaviour in that game will be used to determine the kinds of adverts you are shown. In the past Google has been known to resist giving up this information to third parties, most notably the US government. Anonymous data is available and is kept that way. I don’t see any reason for this move to signal a change in that policy. Google has also made the point that it registers patents on an almost daily basis, many of which are never implemented. As a company dedicated to innovation in its field and the motto of “Don’t be evil”, I’m personally happier that google has control of this technology than I would be if it was Microsoft or AOL. (From The Guardian.)

We’re going to get ads in our games anyway, they might as well be relevant to us. Just be glad its not Microsoft or AOL that are doing it. (

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