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What better way is there to extrapolate a real life scenario than within a modern gaming environment. Despite the drama spinning of role-playing games, they can act like a simulation of the future human condition. What's more, these days we can already see the emphasis on digital data taking a larger role in society. Presidential campaigns in America have become increasingly data-saavy, with Obama's use of data analysis and Romney's low profile data-mining expedition. Does this mean the vote can be swayed just by aligning with the majority mindset? Is this manipulation or falsity?

NASA satellite composite image earth at night
Eric Fischer’s map of Twitter interaction
See how interconnected and similar the physical world is with the digital world - Top: NASA’s satellite composite image of the earth at night.  Bottom: Eric Fischer’s map of Twitter interaction.
Watch Dogs is a game that follows characters that can exploit the data rich systems that are intertwined with our cities. I once wrote a paper about the urban design theory on the use of Twitter in cities and despite being a study of an emerging and fresh communication network, it seems primitive compared to the world described in Watch Dogs. It might not necessarily be a very different world physically but the dependence on a data network is both a great nod to technological efficiency and a huge amount of real time data waiting to be used for malevolence.

Watch Dogs 2012 game digital shadow

The 'shadow' which this game describes is not a physical shadow. The digital shadow that we all leave behind by writing blogs like this, using social media, filling in forms and even doing a simple Google search can drive anyone to manic paranoia if we think too hard about it. Other than being an exciting game with some awesome gimmicks (like hacking the electric grid from a cellphone), the setting is a very likely future condition that gives us all something to think about.

See the E3 Game Demo showing how personal data, the electricity grid and phone bugging is at one's fingertips. "I know how you think"...

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