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Does Watch Dogs Glorify Hacking?

I've been thinking about this ever since I learned about the core story in Watch Dogs:

Does such a game undoubtedly glorify and in turn promote hacking?

It's a relevant question, especially in an industry where a major service (the PlayStation Network) got hacked, creating a gigantic backlash. The bottom line is that as gaming becomes more and more "implanted" in the digital space, the threat of hacking continues to increase. On a much bigger scale, governments spend billions attempting to thwart the efforts of criminal hacking organizations, and many believe humanity's biggest disaster will be related to a hacking mess, as opposed to biological warfare.

All this being considered, if we have a game where hacking enhances our character and makes us feel stronger, is this an issue? How can we not see it as a glorification of hacking? Of course, all the computer experts out there will be quick to mention that hacking, in and of itself, isn't necessarily a criminal activity. It's just that certain individuals have given the practice a bad rap. My contention is that the very basis of hacking appears to be, at the very least, antagonistic and hence, the reputation of "hackers" has been appropriately earned.

I'm just wondering what Ubisoft has to say on this subject. I mean, in a world where everyone is constantly concerned about their privacy and the vulnerability of their personal information, having a game that rewards hacking might not receive the best reaction.

Related Game(s): Watch Dogs

Tags: watch dogs, watch dogs hacking, gaming culture

5/26/2014 9:49:13 PM Ben Dutka

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Legacy Comment System (48 posts)


Lawless SXE
Monday, May 26, 2014 @ 10:15:17 PM
Reply

I think that the portrayal of hacking in Watch Dogs is context dependent. In that respect, I think of it in the same way as graffiti art. It's an illegal activity in most parts of the world and frowned down upon regardless of legality. However, there are people like Banksy who don't tag out of idle boredom, but as a form of social awareness and political protest. Even though what they're doing is legally wrong, it's done for a morally correct purpose, yeah?

In Watch Dogs, Aiden is a hacker, but he's not doing it out of boredom or the desire to be disruptive. He's doing it to get back at the people that allowed his niece to die. Add to that the apparent subtext of the game about the way that we have let technology and constant connectedness become an almost necessary part of first-world cultures in modern times, and it seems to me that Watch Dogs is promoting hacking as a kind of protest/social movement, rather than evangelising hacking for the sake of hacking.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Tuesday, May 27, 2014 @ 1:10:26 AM

Ah, but doesn't that simply mean it's justifiable in certain instances? And we all know where the slippery slope leads... ;)

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souljah92
Tuesday, May 27, 2014 @ 3:50:12 AM

Payday glorifies robbing banks, gta glorifies being a street thug, call of duty glorifies war, need for speed glorfies street racing etc.
every game glorifies something, must people always look for something to complain about?

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Lawless SXE
Tuesday, May 27, 2014 @ 8:02:43 AM

Ben,
You're absolutely right, but I've always felt that laws need to pay more attention to the idea of moral greyness. I mean, if one person's actions harm another in a tangible way, then they deserve to be punished. I mean, Aiden would definitely deserve to go to jail for a long, long time, but for the results of his actions, rather than the intentions.

As you say, though, slippery slope. And this isn't really the place for a lengthy debate about legality and morality (as fun as it would be with this community). :)

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Underdog15
Tuesday, May 27, 2014 @ 9:10:29 AM

@Souljah
Whether or not they must isn't as important as the fact that people, especially non-gamers who have some weird vendetta against games like some US media, ARE looking for something. And that's kind of the point.

The games you listed are often blamed for "causing" bad behavior. Of course it's silly, but you know it's going to be a topic somewhere...

Last edited by Underdog15 on 5/27/2014 9:10:37 AM

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Tuesday, May 27, 2014 @ 11:21:43 AM

"I mean, Aiden would definitely deserve to go to jail for a long, long time, but for the results of his actions, rather than the intentions."

That would be true of all video game protagonists, I think. :)

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souljah92
Tuesday, May 27, 2014 @ 4:09:32 PM

^No Ben not all protagonists
I'd put my hand up someones ass if they tried to put spyro the dragon in jail

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souljah92
Tuesday, May 27, 2014 @ 4:12:10 PM

@underdog
yeah i guess your right, but it's pretty much just a time-filler for the media, couple of weeks and people forget about it, heck it might even boost sales, I mean if i heard a game caused someone to go crazy I'd probably wanna get it just to see what it's all about.

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Peaks
Monday, May 26, 2014 @ 10:19:07 PM
Reply

Hmmm. Well said Ben. Great article.

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homura
Monday, May 26, 2014 @ 10:35:27 PM
Reply

Nope. It's just another plot of a game. There are also plots that can be consider to promote murder, robbery etc. But in the end of the day. It's just a plot of a game.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Monday, May 26, 2014 @ 11:08:02 PM

There's a very big difference. A lot more people - perfectly stable individuals, too - might take a crack at hacking, as apposed to murder.

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matt99
Monday, May 26, 2014 @ 11:22:55 PM

True Ben, but a lot of games promote theft as well which isn't such a big difference, as often hacking is used to steal. So I think homura's point is quite valid.

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kraygen
Monday, May 26, 2014 @ 11:44:42 PM

I have to agree with homura, lots of games reward you for killing and stealing and while killing may be more extreme it doesn't change that fact that if one is promoting the act, then so is the other.

The extremeness of the act doesn't determine whether it's promoting it or not.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Tuesday, May 27, 2014 @ 1:09:46 AM

You're right. But it does have an drastic impact on the possibility of the promotion actually leading to deviant behavior.

The less dangerous people perceive it to be, the more likely they might take a shine to it. On the game hierarchy, with murder and acts of brutality at the top, something like hacking sits at the bottom. That's my point.

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Underdog15
Tuesday, May 27, 2014 @ 9:12:47 AM

There's also the added element of anonymity. People are more likely to do bad things when they can remain anonymous. Something like hacking has this element of removing you from the physical act of theft or harm, even though that's exactly what you're doing.

That's a point worth considering, I think. Still, I do hope people don't use Watchdogs as another reason to criticize gaming.

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Draguss
Monday, May 26, 2014 @ 10:35:43 PM
Reply

How is it any worse than all the other stuff we tend to mix into our game-induced power fantasies? Not saying it's not a valid question, just why single this out in particular?

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Temjin001
Monday, May 26, 2014 @ 10:48:51 PM
Reply

I can't say I'm thrilled about the whole subject matter of this game. But I wasn't thrilled to play as a pirate in AC4. Nearly skipped it entirely because of it. But alas matey it changed me mind once I gave it chance. Arrrrr! It be a fine game indeed!

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Underdog15
Tuesday, May 27, 2014 @ 9:21:45 AM

Maybe I'll give it a shot too, then.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Monday, May 26, 2014 @ 11:21:28 PM
Reply

I wanted to be a hacker after seeing that movie Hackers with a very young Angelina Jolie :)

I think it's okay to glorify hacking. Games are a way to do things we cannot do in real life. If the game gets someone interested maybe they will find a career in it. Real hacking is not easy and is not inherently good or evil.

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Xombito
Monday, May 26, 2014 @ 11:36:07 PM
Reply

Well, we've done worse in videogames haven't we?

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Chamoru_Warrior
Tuesday, May 27, 2014 @ 12:45:13 AM
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I'm 300% with Lawless. Couldn't agree more. It's about the context. In Watch Dogs, Aiden uses it as rebellion and a countermeasure against the corrupt forces behind a corrupt entity. Not hacking for the sake of mere hacking and terrorism. It's like the question of whether or not GTA promotes criminal activity. One could probably make a more justifiable argument there but even that is extremely subjective.

Last edited by Chamoru_Warrior on 5/27/2014 12:46:11 AM

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Killa Tequilla
Tuesday, May 27, 2014 @ 1:58:08 AM
Reply

Does GTA glorify and promote violence?

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Underdog15
Tuesday, May 27, 2014 @ 9:21:12 AM

Yes. Yes it does. It doesn't make you do them IRL, of course, nor does it try to blur the lines between reality and the obvious fiction in the games.

But it does glorify it, yeah. And it does promote it. Heck, you get bonus money for making it brutal.

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Vivi_Gamer
Tuesday, May 27, 2014 @ 3:11:57 AM
Reply

Well this is actually the aspect of Watch Dogs I am interested in most. I hope that the game does project this in a scary way rather than just having it be completely beneficial. I hope that some of the missions cause the character do to questionable things and with such a new form of power show the moral implications of the use of hacking. I'm not saying that hacking online is anything new but I think the age we live in with big data being transferred between unknown third party companies is a problem and I hope the game addresses it. Last thing I want for this is to become just a GTA clone, that would just be the worst thing I could hear in reviews, if Watch Dogs really focuses on the hacking and utilizes it well, it could really be something special.

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Beamboom
Tuesday, May 27, 2014 @ 3:22:24 AM
Reply

I'd rather say this might add an awareness in regards to the amount of information we voluntarily give away - more or less unaware - in todays society, and how that can be (mis)used.

... But probably everyone will just enjoy it as entertainment and then move on.


Last edited by Beamboom on 5/27/2014 3:22:42 AM

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Kryten1029a
Tuesday, May 27, 2014 @ 3:53:14 AM
Reply

You might as well ask whether Breaking Bad glorifies meth labs. Anybody who's inclined to hacking won't need Watch Dogs to nudge them in that direction.

Last edited by Kryten1029a on 5/27/2014 3:54:32 AM

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Tuesday, May 27, 2014 @ 11:22:12 AM

"You might as well ask whether Breaking Bad glorifies meth labs."

I don't need to ask. It does.

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Underdog15
Tuesday, May 27, 2014 @ 11:46:35 AM

Definitely does.

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Kryten1029a
Wednesday, May 28, 2014 @ 1:51:28 AM

Breaking bad didn't make meth any more socially acceptable although it did boost the profile of Pork Pie hats. Hacking has always enjoyed a kind of dark allure and this game won't make much of a difference.

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Aerifale
Tuesday, May 27, 2014 @ 5:19:27 AM
Reply

nothing to add. Great article

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___________
Tuesday, May 27, 2014 @ 5:34:03 AM
Reply

stupid question!
does GTA glorify street thugs, bank robberies, prostitution, street racing, possession theft, ect, ect?
does any shooter glorify violence and war?
does dragon age glorify monster hunting?
the games have plenty of consequences for your actions so of course there not glorifying anything!

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Nix50
Tuesday, May 27, 2014 @ 8:45:49 AM

I can finally agree with you on something!

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Underdog15
Tuesday, May 27, 2014 @ 9:19:06 AM

How can you agree!?! lol

YES! ALL those games CLEARLY glorify the actions your are carrying out! lmao!!! GTA clearly glorifies crime, etc. Shooters clearly glorify violence. Not only do they glorify those actions, they are the whole point of the friggin' game!

Now, does it make people go out and do those things? No, of course not.

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___________
Wednesday, May 28, 2014 @ 10:27:04 AM

just because thats the point of the game does not mean it glorifies it.
to glorify something is to put it on a pedestal and not show the downsides to it, ie scapegoat GTA if there were no cops, no consequences, to your violent actions than that would be glorifying.
but there are cops, there are consequences to what you do, there for its not.

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Corvo
Tuesday, May 27, 2014 @ 6:07:52 AM
Reply

Probably.

Hows that review coming along Ben? I get a feeling you're not liking the game that much. I'm sensing a 7.5 or 8 from you.

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Underdog15
Tuesday, May 27, 2014 @ 11:51:45 AM
Reply

Reading the comments here, it's become apparent to me that people just don't know what it means to "glorify" something.

If you make something look cool, extraordinary, flashy, attach a sense of accomplishment and accolade upon it in a way that is accessible for everyone when it otherwise wouldn't be, or making it an objective to strive for...

You are glorifying it.

EDIT: The number 1 definition in the dictionary for "glorify" is:

"to cause to be or treat as being more splendid, excellent, etc., than would normally be considered."

So yes... GTA glorifies crime and violence... shooters glorify violence and war... and Watchdogs probably glorifies hacking.

There's a HUGE difference between glorifying something and that something influencing others into doing it. Let's not let our justified defense of videogames get in the way of our ability to intelligently defend the medium... because if all of you are saying these games don't glorify their accompanied actions, you aren't arguing intelligently. And people who don't understand gaming will not be impressed with what you have to say to defend it. (Nor should they be.)

There's a great argument to defend games, but denying they don't glorify violence, hacking, etc. is definitely the opposite of a great argument.

Last edited by Underdog15 on 5/27/2014 11:56:49 AM

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Underdog15
Tuesday, May 27, 2014 @ 2:19:01 PM

Damn my double negatives.... at the end, should have read, "but denying they glorify violence...."

Take out the "don't"

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homura
Tuesday, May 27, 2014 @ 2:02:50 PM
Reply

Underdog,
Games do glorify those things but only within the games, not the real thing. And I think what Ben meant in this article is that WatchDogs glorify the real life hacking that perfect stable individual may take a crack at it. Right?

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Underdog15
Tuesday, May 27, 2014 @ 2:26:07 PM

Oh yeah, for sure!

I was referring to some posts others have listed above. Like a couple people saying GTA doesn't glorify crime life or violence... or that shooters don't glorify violence...

They totally do, was my point, and I hate to think saying they don't is what fellow gamers are using in arguments with non-gamers about game's legitimacy.


As for the article thing, he didn't really say it, but I think the one thing that gives that argument legitimacy in my mind is the fact that hacking is accessible and anonymous, where as premeditating going out and shoplifting where you could be seen isn't anonymous nor as accessible. And with easy access to cloud servers, anyone could take a crack at something as basic as a DDOS attack. (Not hacking, I know, but related)

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homura
Tuesday, May 27, 2014 @ 7:56:36 PM

I think we all know Tequila and the others meant is Grand Theft Auto glorify and promotes real life violence? We all know that killing in games or whatever are splendid, excellent, glorified, that's why we love playing those violent games. But we all know that is just in the game. It's all a plot of the game. It doesn't glorify violence in general.

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Underdog15
Wednesday, May 28, 2014 @ 12:36:29 AM

It doesn't promote real life violence, probably.

It does glorify violence. You can't say it doesn't glorify RL violence because it doesn't carry out or talk about RL violence (nor can you say it does). It's a complete misuse of the term.

So no matter what point they were trying to make, it's still a terrible point to make in defense of games because it just doesn't make sense. And when used in a context that DOES make sense, it's dead wrong.

Hence, my cautionary post about how to properly defend our medium when this type of thing comes up. Saying they don't glorify violence, etc, is just such a bad direction to go in if you want to be taken seriously.

Last edited by Underdog15 on 5/28/2014 12:40:39 AM

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TGSA
Tuesday, May 27, 2014 @ 5:02:13 PM
Reply

Somewhat unrelated, but I have to ask...

I haven't been following too much news lately on Watch Dogs to see talk of this, but since I just beat AC 4 yesterday and watched the Conan O'Brien clip today, I noticed that the OS in the game is called ctOS. In the "real world" of AC 4 there's a marketing thing that you read regarding the company trying to sell Abstergo ctOS. Is this just a nod to the other franchise or are they supposed to share the same universe? I figure it's just an interesting easter egg, but maybe there's something I haven't seen.

Last edited by TGSA on 5/27/2014 5:02:53 PM

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Tuesday, May 27, 2014 @ 5:51:44 PM

Hmm, good catch.

I think it's just an Easter Egg, but I wouldn't be surprised if the universes were somehow connected, and we learned more about it in Assassin's Creed: Unity.

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Akuma_
Tuesday, May 27, 2014 @ 9:05:33 PM

It has never really been confirmed nor denied that Watch Dogs and Assassins Creed are based in the same universe.

It is entirely possible.

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PSN French
Tuesday, May 27, 2014 @ 8:56:40 PM
Reply

There are more responsible hackers in the world than irresponsible, every college offers hacking courses and the classes are usually full. They absolutely did NOT "earn" that reputation. There are fringe elements in all walks of life, and it's simply human nature to group people together, and this thought process is consistently wrong.

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Akuma_
Tuesday, May 27, 2014 @ 9:01:57 PM
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When did B Dutka become one of those complaining mothers worried about corrupted youths?

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Underdog15
Wednesday, May 28, 2014 @ 12:37:50 AM

? Where in the article does it say that? :p

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Palpatations911
Wednesday, May 28, 2014 @ 9:41:07 PM
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THey do glorify it.. I dont see a kid in his moms basement at a command prompt while sucking down can after can of mountain dew :)

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