Value capture

Published 2022-04-23.

C. Thi Nguyen uses the term ‘value capture’ to refer to situations when:

  1. Our values are, at first, rich and subtle.
  2. We encounter simplified (often quantified) versions of those values.
  3. Those simplified versions take the place of our richer values in our reasoning and motivation.
  4. Our lives get worse.

For example, we might join Twitter with the hope of making new friends, but end up trying to gain as many followers as possible. Or we might buy a Fitbit with the hope of cultivating a healthy desire to exercise, but end up maximizing our step count.


Nguyen, C. Thi. Games: Agency as Art (p. 201). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

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