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Opinion: Is Automatic Game Recording a Good Thing?

The Xbox One’s DVR capabilities have been big in the news lately. A few days ago, it was reported that the console would automatically record your game progress in tiny video clips whenever you unlock an achievement. These clips can then be distributed automatically to social networks like Facebook or Twitter, or even uploaded onto YouTube if you have a YouTube channel.

The first reaction to this was, “hey, that’s kind of neat.” After all, it’s always kind of nice to brag to your friends about the awesome stuff you did. However, follow up reactions were a bit more skeptical. Will I have to save these clips?” “Will they take up too much space in my hard drive?” “What if the Kinect videotapes me without me even knowing?” “Will these clips pick up voice chat and other online interactions?”

So then Microsoft decided to clarify. The Xbox One doesn’t automatically record video clips any time you earn an achievement. More specifically, developers have control over the Xbox One’s DVR functions while making their game. So the idea of recording you when you unlock an achievement was just a suggestion. Developers could actually program in any number of triggers to make a game record your gameplay and later post it on to social networks.

Once again, that’s kind of nifty, but it still creates some issues when it comes down to privacy, doesn’t it? Sure, video games are mostly harmless, but there are bound to be some people out there who don’t understand why you are uploading videos of killing prostitutes in Grand Theft Auto to your Facebook page. Sure, your beer buddies might get a kick out of it, but your boss and co-workers might have different feelings about the matter, and for reasons other than just, “boo hoo, you are further along in the game than me.”

Let’s face it, video games are violent, and we haven’t grown up enough as a society to not panic any time we see violence in a professional setting. Besides, it’s important to keep business and pleasure separate in the first place. But some people do use their social networking accounts for business, and giving the Xbox One this ability seems kind of dangerous, especially if the developer is particularly mischievous.

Granted, you can always decide to not link your social accounts to your Xbox One account. But that opens up a couple other questions. Will this lock you out of special promotions? Will it lock you out of social leaderboards? Will you constantly get prompts that ask you, “do you want to upload this clip?” after the Xbox One gets done recording.

Perhaps the best way to handle this feature would be the way that Facebook apps handle automatic posts today. Before using an app, you get to choose whether or not that app posts on your behalf. If you have a little bit of technical knowledge, you can also decide exactly who sees what the app posts, allowing you to keep your business and personal lives separate. This would be a perfect model for the Xbox One, though it may mean your Facebook page will eventually become swarmed with posts that say, “your friend wants you to play them in Killer Instinct” or something along those lines.

Simply put, the Xbox One’s automatic recording needs to do the following things:

1) It has to let you opt out if you like.
2) It can’t deny you gameplay or social featured by opting out.
3) It has to be easy to enable and disable without being intrusive to gameplay.
4) It has to be filterable for those who decide to opt in.

If Microsoft abides by these simple guidelines then we have a pretty nifty feature on our hands. If not, then someone out there is going to get fired because his “Boom Headshot” video was forwarded to his boss.

Angelo D’ Argenio is a freelance staffer at Arcade Sushi. His opinions are his own and do not reflect the opinions of the staff at Arcade Sushi or Townsquare Media. (He also thinks that Microsoft should think twice before inserting uncontrollable DVR recording in a console that has already been criticized for invading people’s privacy.)

next opinion: are consoles obsolete?

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