With the full blessing of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, an Australian gaming company has launched a Kickstarter campaign to finish development of a PC game called "Need to Know – The Mass Surveillance Thriller Game."
The game allows you to step into the shoes of an analyst with the fictional US Department of Liberty, a thinly veiled reference to the National Security Agency.
"You must spy on citizens, pick apart their lives, and determine how dangerous they are," reads the Kickstarter page. "You can also resist these suffocating privacy invasions by aiding underground groups and leaking internal reports to the media. Or, you can just use all of that juicy classified information for your own, personal gain. Your call."
Working through multiple clearance levels, the player gains stronger surveillance capabilities as the game advances. From metadata, to financial statements, to full citizen profiles, players are given broad executive powers, but also presented with increasingly difficult moral choices.
"Your actions lead to in-game consequences that actually matter," the page reads. "Negative choices can cause bombings, false arrests, corrupt bankers escaping prosecution, or even (gasp) your own demotion."
"We’ve worked hard to give you difficult decisions that will impact your character, and create some memorable moments."
In addition to a number of side missions, the overarching game quest is to “find the mysterious figures responsible for the initial terrorist attack,” which led to the creation of the Department of Liberty.
"Clues for this central case are buried throughout the story."
Need to Know is being developed by three designers with Monomyth Games. Quincy Geary, Tristam Geary, John Hargreaves hope to raise $20,000 by March 11. Having so far raised roughly $4,500, the team has a long way to go, but they’re offering some worthwhile perks.
For a small $23 donation, contributors will receive a free digital copy and have their name included in the credits. Give $5,000 and you’ll be written into the game, given an executive producer credit, and receive a personalized edition of the final version.
Plus, did we forget to mention that it has the backing of Edward Snowden?
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) February 10, 2016