Video Games

Try a Video Game That Challenges the 'Nothing to Hide' Crowd's Attitude to NSA Surveillance

|

The tongue-in-cheek game Nothing to Hide was born out of creator Nicky Case's dedication to privacy rights. Using the game, he intends to chip away at confidence in National Security Agency (NSA) procedures and give advocates something to think about.

The "anti-stealth" framework is an "inversion" of more familiar stealth-based video games. In the Panopticon-inspired environment, players must control behavior to please monitoring powers. Rather than avoid surveillance equipment, players actively work to remain in sight of yellow, triangle cyclops-eyed cameras. If a player walks outside the view of the camera, he or she risks death by summary, trial-free execution — because clearly he or she is a criminal with something to hide.

The name Nothing to Hide is, of course, taken from a common blasé reaction to state surveillance: "Well, I've got nothing to hide." The game confronts this attitude by drawing attention to the unpleasantness of being constantly monitored. Players are thrust into a dystopian environment devoid of privacy. Digital posters with creepy comments like "Smile for the camera" and "Thank you for participating in your own surveillance" cover the walls.

Case's opposition to surveillance stems from the National Security Agency leaks, but his time in Singapore also shaped his disapproval. He told Vice's Motherboard in an interview:

William Gibson once described it as "Big Brother with a smile." There is quite limited free speech there—you need a permit to write about the government in newspapers, and they try to jail filmmakers and bloggers for subversion.

The surveillance platform offers up an interesting platform for tricky puzzles. Spooky — if kind of groovy — music guides players through a dark maze of silver floors exposed by spotlights projected by the surveillance devices. 

The Nothing to Hide crowdfunding campaign ends March 12. It pledges 10 percent of the proceeds to Mozilla, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Creative Commons, Demand Progress, and the Freedom of the Press Foundation, "because we need our digital rights in this digital age." You can try the demo on the website.

Check out the GamePlay Trailer:

NEXT: Mississippi High School Suspended Student Indefinitely Over Alleged Gang Sign in Science Project Photo

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Good. I’m terrible at stealth games anyway. Seriously this is a great way to make a point.

    1. Ironically enough, it comes across much like any other stealth/puzzler.

      I don’t disagree it’s a great way to make a point, but the people it needs to resonate with are the people that will point out that the ‘being shot to death’ part is what’s really scary/oppressive.

      1. Maybe. But maybe not. The potential of the medium is only beginning to be explored. And there’s a good market for games like Amnesia and Silent Hill which focus on psychological horror rather than visceral shooting.

  2. When I was touring eastern Europe in 1991-2, I noticed that almost all public toilets (including in ‘private’ facilities like restaurants or hotels) didn’t have doors on the stalls. Many places didn’t have ‘stalls’ at all. at first it wasnt anything worth commenting on, but as time passed it became clear it was ‘a thing’. we asked people about it, and they tended to grumble and shrug and generally tell us to fuck off, which was how they responded to most things that didn’t involve money changing hands.

    Finally someone over-reacted in a way we didn’t expect, “WHAT? You have something to hide? You are homosexuals? You do drugs, yes? You scum come to our country and bring your criminal behaviors!?”

    It was explained later that this ‘privacy’ thing was by default, ‘suspicious’. It had become fairly ingrained in the older generation. They saw the idea of it as supremely ‘selfish and decadent’. It was a communist thing. The fact that this attitude extended to shitting was a surprise to us.

    I googled this to see if there was any mention of it… and came across this pretty disturbing exchange =

    ” Travel / Asia Pacific / China / Reference Question

    Why some toilets in China got no door ?
    Janice Gan asked 4 years ago

    Went to China recently and suprise to note that most of their public toilets got no door?

    Disturbing answer below =

    1. Disturbing answer below

      Oh come on, don’t leave us hanging like that.

      1. I will add, as a footnote = many eastern European public toilets also had a little old man in them, often to ‘sell toilet paper’ (it was not free, you know – and it was often just recycled newspaper)… but as we later found? he was actually called, ‘the guard’ (bad translation). When asked what his main purpose was, a younger guy once explained, ‘it depends how much you pay’. You could have privacy for a few bills. Or hell, you could probably do a major heroin deal for a few more. or you could pay none and get ratted to the cops for something you didn’t do, and of course then you’d just have to pay them instead. Welcome to socialism = where everybody’s business is everybody’s business.

        1. I was a little surprised when I was taking a leak in the Ktv bar in Shanghai and all of a sudden, some old Chinese guy starts giving me a shoulder rub.

          Here, take some RMB, just back off, you’re killing my flow.

    2. ANSWER TO WHY ARE THERE NO DOORS ON TOILET STALLS IN CHINA QUESTION

      http://answers.yahoo.com/quest…..519AAaoVwO

      “BShimwoman answered 4 years ago

      The Chinese government is improving life and conditions for all its citizens. It’s growth rate is at an amazing 10% and is expected to rise, while other countries have had theirs dropped due to the global financial crisis.

      – Part of China’s growth is down to the way the government manages its sources under a social system that has won the backing of the people.

      This way:-

      * Wood meant for toilet doors have been reallocated to build timber frames for housing and other important buildings that give purpose and usefulness to China.

      * The money saved from toilet labour costs have gone into other schemes that offer support and welfare to Chinese people.

      In some cases to lessen costs and the environmental burden, it is common not to flush the toilet as well, unlike in the West there millions of tons of pollutants are pumped into the environment each year. I saw a program on TV not that long ago where American wood was only useful for making toilet doors. It was suggested that Western civilization invented the toilet door due to them being embarrassed about their fat bodies.

      I note = this was considered the “#1” answer to the question

      So = THERE IS NO POLITICAL REASON FOR NOT HAVING DOORS

      Its not because of communism. nope. its because fucking Americans are fat.

      1. Wow. My guess was that the Western-food-eating fatties had torn them off while standing up from the squat.

      2. Obvious response is to laugh at them for using wood to make toilet doors when all the really good countries can afford metal toilet doors.

        1. ” all the really good countries can afford metal toilet doors.”

          YES BUT THEN THE HEGEMONIC CAPITALIST IMPERIALISTS JUST REVEALS HIS PARANOID DEFENSIVENESS AT THE AWESOME POWER OF DEMOCRATIC PEOPLES REPUBLIC OF KOREA FORCES AND NEEDING TO WASTE HIS PRECIOUS METALS ON HIDING HIS FAT SHAMEFUL NAKEDNESS FROM THE SIGHT OF EVEN HIS FELLOW MAN WHO RETCHES AT THE SIGHT OF THEIR SHARED DECADENCE AND SLOTH

          1. Whatever. Enjoy defecating in public like a stray dog amid those shoddily constructed hovels you call buidlings, Yi.

    3. It was explained later that this ‘privacy’ thing was by default, ‘suspicious’. It had become fairly ingrained in the older generation. They saw the idea of it as supremely ‘selfish and decadent’. It was a communist thing.

      It’s amazing how quickly you can ingrain new thinking within a generation or so.

      “This market must be regulated!”

      “Why?”

      “Because it’s totally unregulated!”

    4. There is no experience quite like using East German toilet paper (just like the old brown hand paper in the high school bathroom) with a fresh case of hemorrhoids.

      Ahhhhh, the memories (and the wincing).

      1. That was the *good stuff* – the brown sandpaper stuff. It had *grip*.

        The polish newspapers were a totally different story. It just sort of spread stuff around and disintegrated. AND the ink rubbed off.

        I ended up using my “Let’s Go: Europe!” book for TP a lot of the time. We had a debate about which countries where we were *sure* we weren’t going to visit. Scandinavia, I thank you for your sacrifice.

  3. I love it

  4. You can try the demo on the website.

    A honeypot if ever there was one. 😉

  5. Man, that narrator’s voice is worse than nails on a chalkboard.

    Game looks cool though.

    I am so impressed with the resurgence in the Indie Game market.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.