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Do Not Feed The Monkeys (but definitely spy on 'em)

Cam culture

Do Not Feed The Monkeys [official site] is the newly announced digital voyeurism project from Fictiorama Studios. You might remember them from point-n-clicker Dead Synchronicity: Tomorrow Comes Today, but this is more in the vein of exploring surveillance culture rather than the aftermath of an apocalypse. My main observation from the trailer is that as a UK citizen I cannot hear In The Hall Of The Mountain King without assuming we're off to Alton Towers.

Here's a snippet from the story description so you can see more of where the studio is going with this:

"You are the newest member of the “The Primate Observation Club” -and of course it is not the wildlife conservation society the name would suggest. It is a front for a shadowy group that watches others through surveillance cameras and compromised webcams. Tired of your ramshackle apartment, dull existence and boring jobs, you're accepted into the exclusive organization, so you can pry into the privacy of the “caged monkeys” as they go about their lives."

The not feeding of said "monkeys" refers to the fact that one of the rules of monkey club is not to interact with the surveilled monkeys.

As per the dev description:

"The club urges you to not interfere with those observed (to not “feed the monkeys”). But then, what will you do? Will you intercede in the name of justice? Sabotage their dreams? Or will you just sit idly by while the world burns? Whatever you do (or don't do) will have consequences!"

The devs say the game's monitoring was inspired by those sites which let you stream footage from unsecured surveillance cameras around the world but that they added "some moral elements and resources management mechanics". Wit that in mind, whether you intervene or not helps or harms people and you can alter the focus to be more on resources or on narrative.

So it sounds like the game will deliberately feed you situations to add pressure to intervene and put your own role in jeopardy to appease your morality. I can think of a few situations they might mean off the top of my head - someone having an accident at home and needing an ambulance, uncovering/witnessing a crime, a pet left in a hot car, an person who is lonely but can't leave the house, whether you carry on watching if someone starts getting undressed... Alternatively it might be that it lets you mess with someone. I wonder if you could pretend to be a ghost or a psychic, sending them messages about things you've read in their diary?

My moral compass is broken, okay?

Anyway, I'm not sure whether I'm excited about this project. I think I want to hear more before I decide because I don't particularly enjoy moral dilemma-type games. I find them incredibly stressful and usually pretty heavy-handed as they make their point. I also can't tell from this description how far the game would go in terms of trying to push you towards intervening or whether it'll be able to navigate or avoid that tricky ground of putting you in a morally terrible position to start with and then judging you for your actions within that.

That's not to dismiss this one, more to say why I'm keeping an eye on it but am wary.

Do Not Feed The Monkeys is due out this autumn.

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