Here is the trailer for Orwell Game, watch it then read on.
This is exactly what the title says. The game has released two episodes so far out of five with the third being released on November 3rd. The episodes release every week and before diving in fully, I am writing what I hope to see this game produce.
It’s one of the coolest concepts of a game I’ve seen released in recent years. Orwell is a government service created from a newly formed Safety Bill, where you’re tasked as the first human researcher to spy on normal citizens in hopes of discovering information about those responsible for the recent terrorist attack in the city of Bonton, Orwell.
Your job is to distinguish what information to give to security services and what to keep private. It begs the ethical question of what the government can gather on every day citizens in order to keep them safe. You’ll have access to bank statements, medical records, personal emails, social media accounts, dating sites. Basically any social and digital footprint on the Internet can be accessed.
This game reminds me of a mix between the TV show Person of Interest and modern day technology called #iAWACS, created by notorious hacker @th3j35t3r on Twitter. He has taken down terrorist chat rooms/websites online and with every takedown he responds with “TANGO DOWN”. He had a cameo in the first episode of Season 2 of Mr. Robot. And his freakin’ laptop is in the International Spy Museum.
The game is released on Steam for Windows PC’s only. The release dates for the episodic format are as follows:
Episode One: 10/20/16 – Clocks Striking Thirteen (Free Demo)
Episode Two: 10/27/16 – A Place Where There Is No Darkness (Full Version)
Episode Three: 11/3/16 – Unperson
Episode Four: 11/10/16 – Memory Hole
Episode Five: 11/17/16 – Under The Spreading Chestnut Tree
I imagine from looking at the trailer, as you gather information on a person, your constantly craving to learn the next data chunk about them. A data chunk could be a relationship, arrest record, phone number, credit card information, and the like.
Each decision whether to collect the information that’s being gathered has its own rewards and individual consequences. It’s up to you to make smart decisions without breaking the unethical barrier.
I don’t know if people are weird like me and love investigating things happening in real-time, but this essentially is what you do in the game. For example, something that I’ll touch on later, when the Boston Marathon Bombing happened, I was lying in my dorm room at college and listening to police scanners at 2AM while the terrorists were being hunted by police. It was a thrill. Can you imagine being the security and intelligence personnel interviewing those connected to the bombers, tracking there relationship history with certain people and actively putting the pieces to the puzzle together to catch them? That’s what I hope to feel when I play this game.
Is this a hypothetical look into what it’s like to actually hunt down terrorists using similar methods? Like I just mentioned, the Boston Marathon Bombing sounds very similar to the one in the city of Bonton. In Boston, the terrorists used cell phones to remotely detonate two pressure cooker bombs killing three and injuring 80+ more. In Bonton, three died and a few were severely injured.
In November of 2015, Paris suffered a terror attack on a much larger scale involving multiple different coordinated attacks. They used an encrypted messaging app allowing the terrorists to communicate anonymously. So if there was an agency that could decipher these encrypted conversations, then it would be a significant advantage in preventing future terror plots from being carried out. This game tying in real-world concepts is fascinating.
Time is crucial after a teror attack. Likely the terrorists are going to try two things: 1. Attack again 2. Evade capture. Like @th3j35t3r said and I’m paraphrasing from a previous tweet a while back, he created #iAWACS specifically for gathering real-time information, images, tweets, police chatter, and what’s going on in the airspace after the Boston Marathon Bombing. It’s truly incredible how one guy can create something so useful in today’s complex world. It blows my mind. Here is an article from The Washington Post about it in action.
So after all of that, what I’m getting at is, because Orwell has the technology to spy on normal citizens to find the terrorists responsible, they need to use the power for good and not abuse it. As a player, I’d try to stay focused on why I’m reading what I am and what I intend to do with the information. Finding out other information that may be criminal must be dealt with by a case by case basis, because it may not have anything to do with the attack. That’s where the ethics of this game in what to reveal about people’s private lives plays a large role.
I’m interested in seeing whether the news articles about the attack will reveal false information early after the attack. I remember two suspects, just random guys with satchel-like backpacks were named as the Boston Bombers hours after the attack. Turns out, they were just random guys with backpacks. This type of thing can get scary. The wrong suspect could be just a normal person and then their picture is being blasted on national news, all over Twitter, everywhere. The whole city is on lockdown for a manhunt of these two, while the real suspects are still on the loose possibly planning another attack. Eventually, police released pictures of the actual suspects, and days later were hunted and killed/captured.
I’ve written much more than I thought I was going to just based off the trailer, but fuck it I’m interested about games like this. So this leaves me with some questions like, which direction Orwell is going to take the story. Will another terror attack happen? Will we blast out the wrong suspects to the media like what often happens in real life because of the amount of information being gathered in a short period of time? Wrong information is listed as fact, while other information goes unnoticed? It’s something to think about and something I hope to see in this game.
Now I’m going to dive into this game and when I finish it sometime in mid-November I’ll refer back to this blog and write a review about. Tweet me @TheAlbumWeb and let me know what you think.