Hacking people’s machines through online play and gaming are serious threats to a user’s security.
Young people tend to be most at risk, with a Quartz report suggesting that hackers would deliberately target younger players as they can easily pose as a gamer, build trust within a particular game or community, and gain access to important information.
Whilst hacking is a serious threat to gamers, it is also becoming a key part of some major titles. Some of the biggest releases of recent times have hacking elements or are entirely based on the concept of hacking and cybercrime.
We usually see hacking as a menace and a scourge, but these games saw it as a mechanic to drive the narrative, vary play and develop plots.
The entire premise of the Watchdogs titles is hacking; you play a hacker in both the first game and the far superior sequel, which is the one we have included here. Hacking group Dedsec are the protagonists, fighting for justice and freedom in an open-world San Francisco.
The first title was a PlayStation 4 launch game. It failed to truly hit the mark and was labelled as angry and repetitive, but the follow-up developed on the key elements; hacking social media giants and major corporations. It suffered a little from the stigma of the first game, but fans will eagerly await the third title set in London, which has recently been delayed to coincide with the release of the PlayStation 5.
It has been 13 years since cyber-punk title Bioshock hit the shelves, but the impact is still felt today with several sequels and development on the original theme. The debate over what genre it still rages on, from steampunk to cyberpunk and beyond. Whether that is steampunk, cyberpunk or any other fantasy development crossovers, it makes a great setting for an alternative and original game.
That is why the hacking in Bioshock is not perhaps as obvious as Watchdogs; it mixes modern-day hacking with the game’s under-the-sea setting and mechanics. It is still hacking in the strictest sense, but not something that modern-day gamers should fear falling foul of themselves.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Deus Ex is another title that features hacking as one of its core narrative drivers. The original Deus Ex (2000), which also featured hacking, is considered a cyberpunk classic that, like The Matrix did for film, transformed the look and style of future sci-fi games. Its neon and dystopian influence can still be felt today across all gaming genres, with Foxy Games having two dedicated titles based on the cyberpunk genre – Neon Rush Splits and Neon Jungle – that have helped introduce online audiences to this sci-fi category. The critical and commercial reputation of the original game led to many sequels and spinoffs.
In Deus Ex: Human Revolution you play as hacker Adam Jensen, a cybernetically-enhanced security manager at a multinational biotech corporation. The hacking element is a game choice, rather than the core driver. You can, if you choose, omit much of the hacking in favour of combat.
The game’s narrative does encourage you to sneak and hack, which is where it becomes interesting. It introduces a number of mini-games that allow you to take over computers to navigate quietly and efficiently. Deus Ex certainly helped clear the way for other titles with cyberpunk elements and they have become increasingly popular in recent years.
Grand Theft Auto V
Rockstar recent announced that the eagerly anticipated Grand Theft Auto VI was in production, something fans of the series have been waiting to hear since 2015. Its predecessor, GTA V, is still going strong though with regular updates to its wildly popular online version. One of those updates recently introduced the casino heist, with a strong hacking mechanic.
GTA players had already played with a Sightseer app on some delivery missions, introducing a hacking mechanic, but the casino heist delivered it more succinctly as part of the plot. Players must learn two types of hack to get through the casino in a ‘Watchdogs’ style. It even aped fingerprint recognition; a real-life cybersecurity solution, hackers are trying to circumvent.
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