Here’s something for all you degenerate Facebook voyeurs out there. Orwell [official site] is a privacy-invading sim in which you play a member of the surveillance state tasked with combing through messages and private files of “suspects”. As an ordinary user of The Nation’s new terrorist-tracking system, you have to choose what information to give to the spooks and what to withhold. Although something tells me these suspects are not as criminally inclined as the eerie operating system will have you believe. Take a look for yourself in the trailer below. Maybe open a private tab.
Did you use a private tab? Ha! Your ISP is still tracking your websites, fool. Expect a knock at your door very early tomorrow morning.
Apart from having a very on-the-nose name, Orwell is a Papers, Please-style simulator where difficult decisions about privacy and security will overlap, says its developer Osmotic Studios. There are terrorist atrocities happening in The Nation and your choices as an informer will have repercussions as the story goes on.
It looks like an upgraded version of Project Perfect Citizen, a free desktop investigation sim that made my skin crawl, mixing Windows 95 aesthetic with nosying around in folders that aren't yours. But there are also vibes of Replica, Top Secret and A Normal Lost Phone. All interesting takes on 21st century communications that appear to be forming a new sub-genre of cyber-detective fiction. The Australian publisher, Surprise Attack Games, also put their weight behind Hacknet, which is encouraging. I am all for getting more games about this type of thing, because I am a massive privacy nerd. I don’t even poke people.
Orwell is scheduled to release in "late 2016", which gives you plenty of time to microwave your hard drive.