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Dream Lovers

Dream Lovers

The Gamification of Relationships

by Alfie Bown

Series: Digital Barricades

How (and why) are new technologies radically reshaping our desires?

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. This book considers these emergent technologies and what they mean for the future of love, desire, work and capitalism.

Alfie Bown is a Lecturer in Digital Media at Royal Holloway University London. He is a founding editor of 1968 Press and his journalism has appeared in Tribune, New Statesman, Paris Review and the Guardian. His other books include The Playstation Dreamworld and Post-Memes: Seizing the Memes of Production.

'If you want a glimpse into how our desires are manufactured under our new techno-feudal order, and how love can prove our last defence, read Alfie Bown's 'Dream Lovers''

- Yanis Varoufakis

'Alfie Bown is one of the smartest writers around. Dream Lovers is an exciting, astute analysis of how our capacity for desire and reverie has been slotted into the grooves of digital capitalism, and made to work for profit - from porn to Pokémon'

- Richard Seymour, author of 'The Twittering Machine'

'A brisk and engaging examination of the gamification of love, a sharp analysis of contemporary technopolitics and of the synthetic quality of desire'

- Helen Hester, Professor of Gender, Technology and Cultural Politics at the University of West London, and author of 'After Work: The Fight for Free Time' with Nick Srnicek

'Informative, entertaining and devastating all at once. Extremely well-argued and persuasive, it clearly shows how the technologies that promise to help us find love, or even just sex, are also perfectly designed to exploit us at our most vulnerable'

- Anouchka Grose, writer and psychoanalyst at the Centre for Freudian Analysis and Research

'When love is being turned into NFTs and algorithms know more about our desires than ourselves, we should subject this new libidinal economy to ruthless analysis. Dream Lovers does precisely this in an erudite and exciting way'

- Srećko Horvat, author of 'The Radicality of Love'

Introduction: The Grindr Saga
1. Data Love
2. The Digital Libidinal City
3. Simulation and Stimulation: from Games to Porn
4. The Match: Metaphor vs Metonymy
Conclusion: Ready Worker One

Published by Pluto Press in May 2022
Paperback ISBN: 9780745344874
eBook ISBN: 9780745344898

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