Before the much-awaited game Watch Dogs launched just the other week, Ubisoft, creators of the same game, contacted experts from Kaspersky Labs, in order to both avoid over-sensationalization, and ensure the authenticity of the scenarios in the title.
Watch Dogs, which tells the story of Aiden Pearce, a hacker whose criminal past brought tragedy to his family. On the path for vengeance, Pearce both monitors and attacks his enemies by manipulating everything tapped into the fictional Chicago information grid, ctOS.
The Watch Dogs team approached Kaspersky in 2013, shortly after the anti-malware company released a a lengthy research paper on the cyber-espionage campaign dubbed Red October.
Red October, a sophisticated toolkit that allows users to steal data from computer systems, smartphones, activate a system’s microphone, and even activate webcams, bears an uncanny resemblance to the abilities Aiden has in the game.
At that point, the Watch Dogs script was already complete, and the team was putting the final polish on, for added realism. This is where the team of Kaspersky Lab experts joined in. It provided technical consultations and recommendations on what they considered was accurate, and what could be tweaked, edited or changed to make the gameplay and plot development more technically authentic.
Commenting on consulting Ubisoft regarding Watch Dogs, Vitaly Kamluk, Principal Security Researcher with Kaspersky Lab’s Global Research & Analysis Team, said.
“When we first heard about the game we were really intrigued. Ubisoft was pretty accurate in terms of predicting upcoming threats and how cities might look like in five or 10 years. Many of the in-game hacks have become reality already. The game conveys well what might happen if control over systems winds up in the wrong hands. You can seize this control yourself and see how it causes difficulties for people all around you. You can take it to extremes to bring chaos to the city. Your actions could even hurt or kill people.”
Many of the hacks in the game exploit automated control systems. This is a relatively new trend that first appeared several years ago, at an Iranian Nuclear facility. This is a prime example of how a piece of code can break something in the real world, and something very present in the game as well.
“Working with Kaspersky Lab helped us to solidify the technical authenticity in the game,” said Thomas Geffroyd, brand content director, Ubisoft. “There were some liberties we had to take in order to keep the game fun so Vitaly and his team gave us advice within the parameters of including this content in a video game.”