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Play is older than culture. Culture needs human society, whereas animals play all the time. The origins of computers also lie in play—code-breaking and imitation games. Today, the gaming industry makes over one hundred billion dollars per year and we gamify everything from exercise to sex to sleep to crowdsourced scientific work. In the era of “do what you love,” the lines between work and play, pleasure and labor, blur.
Our Play issue looks at at the games people play with technology—and what happens when we let technology play us.
Man Bites Dog
In the beginning was the game.
Chasing the Pink
A report from our gamified future.
My Stepdad’s Huge Data Set
What happens when data and porn collide?
How does an Apple Store work?
From the Silicon Savannah to Sheba Valley
A dispatch from the tech hubs of East Africa.
A love letter to machine music.
Mainframe, Interrupted: Joan Greenbaum on the Early Days of Tech Worker Organizing
A conversation about organizing tech workers before it was cool.
The Art of Eyeball Harvesting: Shengwu Li on Online Advertising
A conversation about how companies monetize your attention.
Game Workers of the World Unite: an Interview with an Anonymous Game Worker
A conversation with an organizer within the video game development industry.
Network Effects: Raul Espejo on Cybernetic Socialism in Salvador Allende’s Chile
A conversation about using computers to run an economy.
Money Machines: an Interview with an Anonymous Algorithmic Trader
An insider explains how algorithms are rewiring finance.
A meditation on trolling in the age of Trump.
Where it is Easy to Do Good
The simple pleasures of living off the (virtual) land.
As one world closes, another one opens.
The Antisocial Network
A reflection on DIY in the age of Facebook.
The strange prehistory and dangerous afterlife of SimCity.
Not a Boy, Not Yet a Gamer
One teenager’s journey into the world of competitive gaming.
(More or Less) All the Rock Models from Skyrim
An attempted collection of every rock from Skyrim.
Roleplay, Interplay, Powerplay
Products and games from our near future that blur the line between play and labor.