Leaky World: First Wikileaks Game Is Based On A Julian Assange Essay


Earlier this month we told you to prepare yourselves for the release of a series of newsgames having to do with the Wikileaks saga, and it would seem that Italian indie developer Molleindustria, best known for the provocative Every Day The Same Dream, is the first one out the door. Made in just 10 days, Leaky World converts the intricacies of the Internet age intelligence leak into videogame mechanics using a rules set described in Julian Assange’s essay, “Conspiracy as Governance.”

Described as a “playable theory,” the game demonstrates the expansion of a “global network connecting members of the ruling class” by having players control a moving line to connect points on a world map. Once connections are made, the goal then becomes to preserve hegemony by maintaining as many connections as possible while severing the ones that begin leaking government secrets. The idea is that the nodes with the most connections are the ones most susceptible to leaks, and if connections to leaky nodes aren’t severed in time, the “pool” of leaks below begins to fill until public dissent reaches a critical point, and it’s game over.

The game is somewhat reminiscent of Gonzalo Frasca’s September 12th, which allows players to drop bombs on an Afghan village to eliminate terrorists, only to have them realize that their actions actually cause more of the villagers to become terrorists. Leaky World uses a similar method of persuasion, demonstrating a political theory by converting its various points into game mechanics and having the player understand them through interaction.

This potentially opens up a whole new breed of political dialog — What would Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto have been like if it were a game? Is it possible that the future of political discourse and debate might involve games as a method of sharing ideas? Which aspects of games have the potential of communicating more effectively than regular speech?

There’s much more to come from the Wikileaks Stories project. Keep an eye on their website, and for more about newsgames, I really can’t recommend this book enough.

You can play Leaky World and read Julian Assange’s essay here.