Google files for patent on video game advertising, but says it doesn't plan to use it

Google's activities in 2007 have been focused largely around the advertising industry. Most recently, the search giant acquired online advertising grand daddy DoubleClick for $3.1 billion. Before that, Google purchased Adscape to expand into video game advertising, a move that put a stressful look on many gamers who are already sick of seeing advertisements in titles from such companies as Electronic Arts.

This week, Google made good on its acquisition of Adscape and filed for a patent covering a method for in-game advertising. According to Google, the goal of the patent is to lock down a method for monitoring and analyzing a player's in-game behavior. Everything from the type of music that a player might listen to, actions that are performed and even what a player communicates to other players will be monitored.

Right off the bat, monitoring in-game activities may prove to be a bit too much for privacy advocates. It appears that Google's systems may target large massive-multiplayer online (MMO) games such as Sims Online or Second Life. Because many of these game act much like a comprehensive chat program, privacy may become an issue.

According to the patent:

Information about a person's interests and gaming behavior may be determined by monitoring their online gaming activities (and perhaps making inferences from such activities). Such information may be used to improve ad targeting. For example, such information may used to target ads to be rendered in a video game being played by the person.

Google indicated to the press that despite its patent filing, it does not have any specific plans to use the patents. "Google registers different patents irrespective of whether we actually intend to use them," said a Google representative. 

"Mac OS X is like living in a farmhouse in the country with no locks, and Windows is living in a house with bars on the windows in the bad part of town." -- Charlie Miller
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