Projecting Surveillance Entertainment

Location: Marina Ballroom F Level: Intermediate

Casual social surveillance is on the rise, from video games to internet productivity applications. These systems make our everyday online interactions social and present opportunities for performance or embarrassment. Here are some examples of social information systems up and running now, and scenarios where they haven’t yet been seen:

  • Xbox Live can tell online friends what video games you’re playing. What if DVD players told your friends what movies you watch?
  • World of Warcraft watches players using skinning tools on creature pelts, leveling them up as leatherworkers. What if Google Docs watched people writing business plans and leveled them up for repeated revisions?
  • Jaiku aggregates your various feeds from the Web and merges them into a mobile profile. What if you were engaged in a constant game of signalling social presence and media awareness through your devices and not playing was tantamount to death?
  • Our game PMOG, a Firefox extension that follows players as they browse the Web. PMOG gives points and tools for playful internet annotation, and begs the question: how do you design a game where all of human data is the playfield?

This session will describe a few directions for surveillance entertainment. In addition, we’ll discuss appropriate boundaries for future applications that give social networks access to our data trails. Finally, we’ll imagine the life of someone for whom play is a constant background task.

Photo of Merci Victoria Grace

Merci Victoria Grace


Merci Hammon is a creative force in the field of immersive entertainment design. A writer and artist, she has created a number of short films, animations, fictions, and CG sculptures. Her work has shown at the UCLA Hammer Museum in Los Angeles. She worked at Bad Robot Productions and was trained there in visual effects.

At GameLayers, Hammon envisions a game built on top of the entire internets and works with creative people to materialize that vision.

Photo of Justin Hall

Justin Hall


Justin Hall creates and explores simulation in online media. He created one of the early extensive home pages, “Justin’s Links from the Underground” in January 1994. In 2004, the New York Times Magazine referred to him as “the founding father of personal bloggers.” In May 2007, Hall graduated with an MFA from the Interactive Media Division at the University of Southern California, School of Cinematic Arts. His professional experience includes grunt work and strategy at HotWired, electric minds, ZDTV,, Nokia’s and the Creative Artists Agency.

Today, Hall is CEO of GameLayers, a small game design company building playful experiences in your web browser.


Diamond Sponsor

  • Sun Microsystems

Gold Sponsors

  • Adobe Systems, Inc.
  • Amazon Web Services
  • Disney
  • Google
  • Make magazine
  • Yahoo! Inc.

Silver Sponsors

  • AdaptiveBlue
  • Jaduka

Premier Media Partner

  • ZDNet