Justin links to other similar passive games that reward you with points for your Outlook email traffic or track your overall application usage. Like the fuel meter I talked about last week, this is gaming by passive monitoring. The idea is that the more you “level up” in strange ways (i.e. by looking at lots of websites), the more you will want to optimize your use to achieve certain goals.
There are a couple ways to look at this. On one hand, it’s a silly and somewhat pleasurable way to report on things you are already doing. Imagine a refrigerator that gave you “cheese points” for every lasagna you make. Who cares? Well, on the other hand, perhaps doing this kind of tracking will increase your awareness of certain kinds of behaviors and encourage you to change that behavior (tofu points, anyone?). And in a game context, you can set your own goals and get cheered on by the system for your achievements.
Passive games like this also reflect the continuing breakdown of privacy on the web. I have signed up for an automated personal stalker, for my own entertainment. Worse, the data accumulated about me is (in an aggregated form) available to other players. I’m encouraged to start up relationships with folks based on the fact that we both look at a lot of DIY websites.
Explore for yourself, but before you do, enjoy this very, very funny video on the future of MMOs (Massively Multiplayer Online games).