When video game vendor Ubisoft set out to make computer hacking a central part of its forthcoming Watch Dogs game, it didn’t piggyback on the comically overblown and inaccurate portrayals of hacking in Hollywood movies.
Instead, Ubisoft got in touch with Kaspersky Lab, a Moscow-based security vendor that is one of the world’s foremost authorities on hacking.
In Watch Dogs, the main character is a vigilante hacker named Aiden Pearce. When he needs money, he hacks into people’s smartphones and pilfers it from their bank accounts. When he’s really mad at someone, Pearce hacks into the traffic light system and causes nasty car accidents.
Kaspersky Lab’s security experts are working with Ubisoft to ensure that the hacking scenes in Watch Dogs are depicted as accurately as possible, Ludwig Kietzmann of video game news site Joystiq reported Friday.
Watch Dogs is slated for release this holiday season for Xbox, Windows, Playstation and Wii.
Kaspersky Lab has “really hardcore experts” that are not shy about letting the developer know when they’ve got it wrong, Ubisoft’s Senior Producer Dominic Guay told Joystiq.
“We send them some of our designs and we ask them feedback on it, and it’s interesting to see what gets back. Sometimes they say, ‘Yeah, that’s possible, but change that word,’ or, ‘That’s not the way it works.’,” Guay told Joystiq.
There are a couple ways of looking at this. Criminal hacking is serious business, and it’s important that it be portrayed the right way so that people can better understand the risks. And given the absurd way hacking is depicted in movies like WarGames (1983), Hackers and The Net (both 1995), it makes sense for Ubisoft to provide a more realistic picture.
At the same time, there’s a case to be made that a security vendor that has built its reputation on thwarting hackers might not want to get involved in a video game in which a hacker is the hero. Kaspersky Lab’s software is widely used, running on consumer PCs and enterprises.
Kaspersky Lab founder and CEO Eugene Kaspersky has warned that hackers could have the wherewithal to take down many of the world’s critical systems in less than a decade’s time.
If this happens, “somewhere in 2020, maybe 2040, we’ll get back to a romantic time – no power, no cars, no trains,” Kaspersky said last September at the Billington Cybersecurity Summit in Washington, D.C., as reported by Reuters.
A Kaspersky spokesperson confirmed the vendor is working with Ubisoft but declined to comment further. Ubisoft declined further comment.