Hacktivist Post-mortem

I posted the final section of my paper from last spring’s independent study (actually there was another section where I looked at current examples of games I thought came close to this idea, but I cut it because I didn’t like it very much) which gave me an opportunity to re-read it and think about the ideas I was exploring then. Here are some musings.

After I finished it last year, I did not think that the paper was very well researched, and the writing was fairly rushed. Rereading it, it is more cohesive than I thought, and many of the ideas are still relevant. Immediately after writing it lulzsec became very prominent, and Wikileaks has faded. For a short period of time last spring, it seemed that political hacktivism was not being lumped in with the big scary hackers and crackers, but lulzsec ended that I think. Keeping track of their twitter/IRC soap opera is impossible when they change names and identities faster than they change targets and ideologies.

I thought that I could follow up the paper with a game that engaged with the content of the leaked cables, but I never did. Figuring out how to engage an audience with the political and economic implications of the leaks rather than the personalities of Wikileaks (Manning, Assange) proved beyond my game design ability and political understanding.

One of the problems I was thinking that hacktivist games could resolve was the political disengagement of my generation (myself included). This fall’s Occupy movement has shown that we aren’t all slaves to our tumblrs quite yet. I now think that non-digital activist games (activist ARG?) would be an interesting area to look at.

I don’t think I will pursue the idea of hacktivist games any further. It was fun to think about, but their utility would not match the cost of production. I now think it is much more worthwhile to promote mass algorithmic literacy and the ways to produce games towards that end.

Next up is tidying my final paper on code studies from my fall senior seminar in English.