In this age of smartphones and computers, electronic devices have become our true companions. But, are the advancements in technology an advantage or disadvantage to society? The core idea of this interactive story is to provide a critique on the current debates around data security, information privacy, and the policies surrounding them. This simulation is meant to inform and teach players that they should be hyper-aware of the personal information they are sharing. The simplest way to avoid being a victim, is to never click on links unless you’re sure of the actual source.
Game Time Scale
- 4 - 6 weeks
- Core Team
- Andrea Ton
- Lead Designer
- Lead Writer
- Lead Coder
Licenses / Hardware / Other Costs
- Adobe Creative Suite ( Illustrator, Photoshop, After Effects)
Theme / Setting / Genre:
Not set in any dystopian or alternate reality. It is in the present world, as we know it. Having our personal digital devices act as surveillance cameras. History teaches us that lists of hacking suspects can sometimes be drawn way too broadly. Today, there are even attempts by the British Government Communication Headquarters to monitor everyone who visited the Wikileaks website, even just to browse. Some policies and regulations don’t’ make sense and your data and privacy are overreached by law enforcement. In addition, technologies like Finspy are commercially available today to install malware on your computer or phone and “recruit” it to spy on you. Our omnipresent-networked devices raise big questions that we should openly debate. Balancing these costs and benefits will determine the type of society we live in. All of the imagined scenarios are designed to be highly plausible for anyone. It’s the familiarity that makes them so disturbing.
Core Gameplay Mechanics Brief:
The core gameplay mechanics will be Interactive fiction game on web. The protagonist—that is, the reader—takes on a role relevant to the adventure. In this case, the main player will be a victim of a cyber security attack and will be faced with two or three options, each of which leads to more options, and then to one of many endings.
PC - The most common platform. PC games tend to be bigger and more involved than mobile games. The systems are capable of more, and the users expect you to give them more, and kept them involved for longer. There is also a much bigger market for multiplayer, which has its own enormous challenges.
Influence #1 - Television: Black Mirror
a popular Netflix Original series exploring techno-paranoia, tapping into the collective unease about the modern world. This multi-linear story gave us insight into how these malicious cyber crimes can result in real-world implications.
Influence #2 - Literature: Trojan War
The Greeks give a giant wooden horse to their foes, the Trojans, ostensibly as a peace offering. But after the Trojans drag the horse inside their city walls, Greek soldiers sneak out of the horse's hollow belly and open the city gates, allowing their compatriots to pour in and capture Troy, ending the war.This inspired the, “trojan hacker attack’ within the game’s narrative.
Influence #3 - Literature: 1984 by George Orwell
The novel is set in the year 1984 when most of the world population have become victims of perpetual war, omnipresent government surveillance and public manipulation. This inspired the educational motive behind the game. Re-iterating the cocnept that, ‘Big brother is watching’ makes us hyper-aware of the kind of technological society that we currently live in.
Influence #4 - Literature: Hacker Psychology
It’s important for IT professionals to understand the ways in which social engineers take advantage of human emotion in order to carry out their attacks. Fear,Obedience, Greed, Helpfulness are human tendencies cyber-criminals take advantage of in order to carry out social engineering campaigns. When writing the story, I hope to evoke these emotions throughout the gameplay.
This project is conducted individually. It follows the 8-step story production phases described in the Digital Storytelling textbook in Ch. 11, pp. 191-203 with an additional step of producing a prototype. It’s objective is to plan and produce linear and multi-linear narrative projects. This will be done by analyzing the construction of traditional and multi-linear multimedia narrative aesthetics.
Core Gameplay Mechanics:
A core mechanic is the essential play activity players perform again and again in a game. During a game, core mechanics create patterns of behavior, which manifest as experience for players. The core mechanic is the essential part of game activity, the mechanism through which players make meaningful choices and arrive at a meaningful play experience.
Core Gameplay Mechanic #1
Choosing of an option to introduce themselves to, determining the main character's actions and the plot's outcome. Where multiple playthroughs can yield more information, allowing players to delve deeply into the many different ways a journey could unfold.
Story and Gameplay
The story follows the epic struggle of between the mighty trade city of Troy and the alliance of Greek city states. The mighty Greek army must establish itself near the city of Troy and lay siege. Can the Trojans strike a bold attack against the Greek main camp and break the siege completely? Will the Trojans dare use the Trojan Horse gambit?
This will be the paragraph description of the interactive story. But in reality, the user will be facing a game much more horrifying. This simulated hack attack will take the player through all of the potential cyber-attack scenarios. The hacker will have malicious motivations and target the players personal information, credentials,and proprietary information. Through social engineering, the player will question what did they really voluntarily sign up for.
The Game: To the user, the game starts off seemingly like a harmless action/battle game - where the main goal is to have the Greek army lay siege near the city of Troy. In actuality, this is a precursor for what's about to happen to the player. They will be brought to the main game game, the an instructions page, followed by a Terms & Conditions page.
The Agreement: Most people do not bother to read the fine print and blindly click on the 'Accept' button. By doing so, “you agree to abide by our terms of service.” Apparently losing rights to data and legal recourse is not enough of a reason to inspect online contracts. Users give web-based services – and third parties the services contract with, about which users know nothing – the right to keep, analyze and sell their data. Increasingly often, people click away their right to go to court if anything goes wrong. Playing off this, the fine print in the Terms and Conditions of this game will include the entire way the game is going to be played out, the fact that their emails will be accessed, their login information for their online banking will be taken, and numerous other aspects of the interactive narrative. It will explicitly state this but most players will breeze through it and will not read the fine print. This is done to make people realize at the end of the game that they need to understand that they are in charge of their own data security.
The Attack: By clicking "Join" or "Accept" , they will automatically be downloading the spy male-ware unnoticed. A gif will pop up and state that the virus is downloading and complete. The hacking stimulation begins.
First Impression: Here, a chatbot will pop-up on the screen and this will be the main way of the hacker communicating with them. The first thing the collective would say is "WE'VE BEEN WATCHING, WE HAVE IT ALL". He will then proceed to state that the player has only 22 minutes to complete the tasks. He will then order the player to respond with. Why 22 minutes? I wanted to make a reference to George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984. 1+9+8+4 = 22. This is the Hackers way of saying, "Big Brother is watching you".
+SMS - Save. My. Soul:The player will be prompted to reply with his/her phone number, where he/she will receive a real text message to their phone from the supposed hacker, giving him the next instructions.
Jones leaves a message: The player will call the number provided by the hacker and it will connect them to the character, Jones.
iSee: The player will have to upload and syndicate top secret files/ photos / screenshots found on a designated icloud account. Player choose to not do task - have his/her own data leaked (game over) or carry out the task and continue the game.
Cha-ching: The hacker will then prompt the player to enter his/ her email. An electronic wire transfer will be sent to the player, where he or she will 'deposit' the money into their account.
Big Brother is watching: A twitter newsfeed of a newsroom will be reporting that there has been a security breach and financial information/bank data will be threatened to be released if ransom not collected. Another tweet will talk about the icloud hack of an influential person.
The reveal/ epilogue: A timer will run blink 00:00 indicating time is up. A troll face will reveal itself. A paragraph will explain the intent of the game and will provide the original terms & conditions agreement form for the player to re-read what they signed up for.
The story features snippets of a realistic cyber-attack that pull you in and keep you there with small interactions and mini-missions. The game is built entirely within the web-browser and compatible for PC. It has a main menu and subpages that take the player through the narrative.
Starting/Playing the Game
Open up the game in browser, leading the player to the main menu.
With the MainMenu open, three options will be present, Start, Instructions, Quit Game
Click ‘Play’ button to launch the game, click ‘Instructions’ for a high-level tutorial, or click ‘Quit Game’ to exit.
Once you have selected to join a game, you will enter the initial gameplay area ( a greek adventure game front)
A text will prompt the player to please read the Terms & Conditions Agreement before proceeding to play the game.
At the bottom of the agreement form, a ‘Agree’ button with the fineprint, ‘I accept the term & conditions’ will be available for the player to click on. Once the player Clicks on the accept button, a download of the virus will began and invade their device.
A gif will pop up in the middle of the screen, stating that the virus is downloading and complete. The hacking stimulation begins
On the bottom right corner of the screen display, a chat bot will pop-up and will display, " WE'VE BEEN WATCHING, WE HAVE IT ALL, YOU HAVE 22 MINUTES TO COMPLETE THE ORDERS".
A timer will appear, ticking down the remaining time
A form will pop up in the middle of the screen, prompting to input their phone number.
A SMS text message is sent to the given number with the set of next instructions on their mobile device screens
Player must call toll-free number to hear a message
Back on the main game set, the player will have multiple choices that tests whether or not the player has received the text + call with the correct information.
A subpage will precede the choice made as an outcome and bring the to an Icloud storage account
Here,the player will be faced with an iCloud account where they will be faced with two choices, to take the files and spread them,(game over) or to have his/her own personal data shared to the world. (continue game)
Another subpage will show the two outcomes: game over written in centre of screen then the epilogue or if the player continues the game, they will be prompted to enter their email address.
Out of the main game page, the player will login to their email to find a email from the hacker, to what it looks like an e-trasnfer, where he/she will 'deposit' the money into their account. Once complete an automated confirmation text will appear on the screen.
A twitter feed will appear in the following window where there will be reports that there has been a breach in cyber security. The player will be able to scroll and look through these tweets. Three options will appear, saying "how did this happen" and "who did this" or "who are you?"
Regardless of the outcome, blinking troll face meme will pop up, the timer will blink 00:00, and then the epilogue will be shown , explaining the intent of the game. The player will also have the option to re-read the terms and conditions agreement to see what they voluntarily signed up for.
- Environment Textures
- troll face meme graphic
- forged emails
- SMS text
- virus downloaded / pop-ups
- Sound List (Ambient)
- Evil Laugh
- Man menu jingle
- tweet (sent fx)
- money - cha-ching
- Hackers disoriented voice
- Sound List (Player)
- Voice of giving instructions
- Html + Css + java
- Environment Animations
- timer ticking down
- virus downloaded complete