Watch Dogs, it first graced us with a phenomenal demo at E3 last year and to say the expectations are high would be an understatement. The game is best described as Assassins Creed combined with Grand Theft Auto, but the hero isn’t a thug or a chosen one – he is a hacker. According to Joystiq, Ubisoft is further setting Watch Dogs apart from the rest by doing something that hasn’t even been done in movies: it’s using a real world security firm, Kaspersky Lab, as consultants.
This may not seem like a big deal but when you consider how Hollywood and even some games have romanticized hacking as a beautiful graphic and anyone can do it, it’s total nonsense. Senior Producer for Watch Dogs, Dominic Guay, gave some insight as to what services Kaspersky is providing: “They have really hardcore experts there on hacking. We send them some of our designs and we ask them feedback on it, and it’s interesting to see what gets back. Sometimes they say, ‘Yeah, that’s possible, but change that word,’ or, ‘That’s not the way it works.”
Depending on how the developers implement certain things, it could change how gamers and movie audiences expect to see hacking portrayed. The one game that actually got hacking right was one no one wanted to play, Enter the Matrix. The problem with it was that it was too true to material, unlike the movie Hackers that made it look like a graphical game to keep non-programmers entertained.
There has to be a fine a line between the two extremes and though Hollywood hasn’t found it; I suspect the Watch Dogs development team may have a good idea of what it needs to be when Dominic said this: “It’s not about the minigame that will let me open the door, it’s the fact that I’m making a plan. I’m making a plan of how I’m going to chain hacking, shooting, traveling the city and driving to achieve an objective.”
This mindset doesn’t make hacking the focus of the story, because a story should always be about people; rather it makes it a tool, a skill something to be learned or used. The only question I have left is, will this be a tool that is a copout (Hackers), a hardcore skill (Enter the Matrix) or will it find a happy medium between those extremes? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.