We are in the middle of a ‘desirevolution’ – a fundamental and political transformation of the way we desire as human beings. Perhaps as always, new technologies – with their associated and inherited political biases – are organising and mapping the future. What we don’t seem to notice is that the primary way in which our lives are being transformed is through the manipulation and control of desire itself.

Our very impulses, drives and urges are ‘gamified’ to suit particular economic and political agendas, changing the way we relate to everything from lovers and friends to food and politicians. Digital technologies are transforming the subject at the deepest level of desire – re-mapping its libidinal economy – in ways never before imagined possible. From sexbots to smart condoms, fitbits to VR simulators and AI to dating algorithms, the ‘love industries’ are at the heart of the future smart city and the social fabric of everyday life.

Alfie Bown’s Dream Lovers: The Gamification of Relationships (Pluto Press, 2022) considers these emergent technologies and what they mean for the future of love, desire, work and capitalism.

Rudolf Inderst is a professor of Game Design with a focus on Digital Game Studies at the IU International University of Applied Science.

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