First, watch this video.
You know, everything we create can be used for evil purposes with some thinkering. That’s what’s seems to be happening in China with a gamification system used, apparently, to massive social doctrination.
From my point of view, it’s not that much more evil than using skinner box-like principles in games – the main difference, of course, is those social consequences which are far more devastating than simply wasting time/money. But both are coward, mostly unconscious ways of inducing people to do wathever you want them to do.
And just like people don’t care about playing those games (as they have “fun” in return), they’re probably not going to complain about such system, as they’re going to receive “real world gifts” for being well doctrinated. That’s the same process used in any of those modern cash-in games, only at different “media” and at a different scale. You know what I mean: be my b*tch, give me what I want (money/data), and everybody is happy. Changing the “media” and the “currency” does NOT change the (evil) nature and purpose of both processes.
If you develop games and does not see such relation, I’m sorry, but perhaps you’re way too long developing manipulating games without ever noticing that. If the user must give something in return for fun, sorry, but you’re being just as manipulative and evil as China’s government, but in a “cool” way.
But please don’t misunderstand me: I’m not saying that any specific game business model is “evil” by nature: F2P, DLC, Freemium, Premium, Shareware… the “evilness” reside on the developer’s intention – and in that sense, my criticism goes over those kind of companies, doing their best to exploit people as much as they can.
And please don’t miss it: it’s already starting in the occident as well, but disguised as “cool and funny social network experimentation”, using the traditional method: taking a looooong way, with almost invisible steps, so people never notice it. Just wait and see.