There’s a game coming out called Watchdogs. I’m super excited for it. It’s by Ubisoft, who does the Assassin’s Creed franchise. It takes place in Chicago, which is a city I’ve been waiting to see in a video game since I live so close. It looks beautiful and fun and the premise is incredible. The government, big brother, has made it so every part of the city, all of the people are monitored through an immensely intricate and advance security network, hooked up through countless cameras and numerous super computers. It’s to keep the people safe. Your job is to hack the system and break it, utilizing it for your own good, or bad, as you see fit. What an incredible science fiction video game!
Wait, is it really? This game honestly scares me a little.
First, Ubisoft has shown their powers of fortune telling. In the game, they have it so you can purchase guns in legitimate gun stores in Chicago. If you aren’t keeping track, Chicago has the most suffocating gun laws in America. Guns are illegal. Period. So during the game play demo, when our main character walks into a gun store, I said, “That’s not possible! This game lacks verisimilitude.” I saw this article a week later.
But take a closer look at the premise of this game. Minority Report took us so far into the future, we shrugged, laughed, and said this could never happened. Only the paranoid loonies would believe it. How does a society evolve to that point? There was a missing link in the evolution of a truly big brother government, one that would have to perform without the aid of three girls capable of seeing probabilities and sorting through them to the most likely outcome.
Can’t computers do that? In the game play demo, as you’re walking through the streets with infinite information at your fingertips, you can learn a lot about people. Each person has a name, a profession, some secret that is whispered to the dark. You’ve accessed the dark and have heard their cries, and it is up to you whether you’ll say yes or no to their rhetorical pleas for help.
But the real question is: does big brother know? Is this game that missing link that goes from normal people to men wearing tin hats? Are we to look at this and think “We aren’t that far.” Sure it’s not as obvious, especially to the normal people who don’t have the technological savvy. The NSA already compiles information that they shouldn’t have access to. As a nation we’re becoming more and more aware of scandals, yet scandals are more and more often brushed under the rug as if the nation was unaware. Trust with government is at an all time low, and the question of security verse freedom is at the forefront, but we seem too scared to actually answer it. We let others answer it, those who control the “security.”
Watchdogs looks incredible. I am excited to play it. But a lot of what is implied in the game doesn’t seem that far off for what the government is already capable of. We say people who believe in sci fi and the implications should be in a nut house, but how often has sci fi paved the way for the future?