Stop the Secrecy

The Verge: Check out "Off the Grid"

Thu, 10/30/2014 - 14:32 -- Eva Prkachin

This video game uses intuitive learning to teach players about how online information really functions on the Internet - from enhancing our understanding to undermining our privacy.

Article by Andrew Webster for the Verge

In 2011, Rich Metson was a metal worker who was just starting to dabble in the world of coding and open source software. This newfound interest led him to a conference put on by the Internet Society, and in between dry discussions of internet protocols and domain names, he stumbled on a talk by Columbia University professor Eben Moglen. That moment was the first time Metson truly understood the implications of net neutrality and data privacy. He describes the talk as "a rallying cry." And coupled with ongoing events like the Arab Spring uprising, it had a profound influence on him.

While some people might react by spreading the word through a blog or stiffening up their own personal privacy measures, Metson's mind went in a completely different direction. "Over dinner, drinks, and pinball that week my mind was buzzing with how to splice video games and net neutrality," he explains.

It took a few years, but Metson eventually partnered with fellow aspiring indie game developer Pontus Schönberg to build Off Grid, a satirical stealth game where you utilize data to traverse the world. Work first started in early 2013, and the game is expected to launch sometime next year. Off Grid isn't the first game to tackle these issues, but whereas titles like Watch Dogs have simply grafted ideas about data and privacy on to a fairly traditional open-world experience, Off Grid is making them the defining feature. There aren't even any weapons or combat. "We're making a game about how manipulative data can be," explains Metson. "Your interactions should be about manipulating it to learn that."

- Read more at the Verge