5 ways that video games have most heinously lied to us about hackers and hacking

So, Sega is the latest in a long string of game companies to be hacked. Bad new for the house of Sonic (even if, in a truly bizarre twist of fate, hacktivist team LulzSec has pledged help in tracking down the perpetrators, in respect of its love of the Dreamcast). But why the huge spate of game company attacks since the PSN debacle? Is it just gaming's turn? Or is it vengeance in return for the woefully inaccurate way gaming has presented the hacking profession over the years?

Because if you believe games, hacking is way more silly, way easier, and way more utterly insane than it is in real life. Evidence? Is it evidence you want? Good. Well I will provide you with some.

1. Hacking is always a game

Hacking, boiled down to the simplest terms, is a case of navigating through a set of security constructs to get to some nice juicy data. That involves a) problem solving, and b) an adversary of sorts. Both are, in a very loose sense at least, core elements of the video game experience itself, so why not go the whole hog, run them both through the metaphor machine, and turn video game hacking into a game within a game? Not only does this keep the flow of gameplay going, where 'real' hacking would instantly halt it with a blockade of command prompts, but if hacking in a game is an optional pursuit, it actually encourages the player to get involved by making the mechanics a nice little mix-up from the main gameplay.

Above: We put games in your hacks in your games so you can play while you're hacking while you're playing

Also, it promotes the usage of the "Yo, dawg..." meme again. Which is basically fine.

2. Hacking looks amazing

Those command prompts I mentioned above? Forget them. Ever since Tron, that is not how computers work. Oh yeah, you may think that properly exploring all their secrets and mapping their hidden geography requires a decent understanding of computer science and a whole load of programming knowledge, but real computers are absolutely nowhere near as dry as some people would have you believe. All that complicated technical stuff is just a smoke-screen created by those hedonistic, psychedelic experi-nauts in the programming community, in order to keep you out of their bass-throbbing, neon-drenched world of mescalicious digital excess.

Hack a system and you will invariably find yourself whirling through some manner of day-glow cyberspace vortex made out of melted flourescent tubes and the left-over fragments of Timothy Leary's cheese dreams. A computer isn't a tool you use to access information. It's a living digi-cloud of blissed-out synaesthetic mind-joy. And even more excitingly, if your hack fails, you'll either be trapped there forever or you'll die. Which is a bit more glamourous than posting abusive raps on YouTube before eventually settling out of court.

3. The password is always obvious

If you're having trouble with your hack, don't worry. Just look around your immediate surroundings. If you see something written backwards on a wall, directly opposite a mirror, that's your password. If not, just scroll through the security cameras (which will be easy to hack) until you find a room with a giant whiteboard in it. It'll probably have "PASSWORD01" written on it in big letters. That's how you'll know it's the right one.

4. If the password is not obvious, the password prompt will help you

Yeah. As video games have taught us, all computer systems want to be hacked. It's pretty boring for them, just sitting around all day being massive and full of knowledge, and they crave a bit of human interaction. Those mainframes just love indulging in a bout of playful "Riddle me this" action, so as soon as they spot a hacker trying to break in, they'll immediately make friends and start up a little game. Screw those tech security guys and their precious data. They haven't called in months. A video game computer won't give you a blunt "Password incorrect" message before alerting security. It'll tell you which letters you have right and give you a couple more tries to get the rest.

5. Any piece of hardware can be hacked

Everything is networked. Fact. If it uses an electrical current, steam-power, or just plain old has moving parts, then it is run online as part of one huge, universal network and can be hacked. Security door, drone turret, fruit machine or novelty cigarette lighter. It doesn't matter what it is. If it is a device and you are a hacker, then you can take control of anything from anywhere and have it do your bidding. No local connection is needed, no specialist hardware is needed. Just log onto GenericNet (tm) using the laptop, smart phone or Tiger LCD game of your choice, and it is yours.

In the real world, this does not work.

June 20, 2011


  • claytonmiller - June 22, 2011 1:27 a.m.

    #5: See Goldeneye 007 Wii-make. Also of note: Rez actually uses the term "Cracking" to describe your intrusive activities. I found that surprisingly accurate, considering how "hacking" has become such a blanket term to describe manipulating things in unintended ways, especially cyber... Things... Loved the article, by the way.
  • Reebokanonymous - June 22, 2011 12:13 a.m.

    Hm slightly reminiscent of a Cracked article.
  • sid440 - June 21, 2011 11:10 p.m.

    I appreciate the duke nukem reference.
  • Bobishungry - June 21, 2011 5:48 p.m.

    He can't hack the blender because it has a mind of its own! RUN! SAVE YOURSELVES! IT WANTS TO BLEND YOU!
  • stevethetree - June 21, 2011 4:33 p.m.

    @losthero15 Yeah, I instantly thought of Wheatley's wall/door "hacking" as soon as I read #5.
  • losthero15 - June 21, 2011 4:20 p.m.

    This article requires Wheatly's "hacking" skills clip
  • Sjoeki - June 21, 2011 4:01 p.m.

    Ah this brings back memories to my hacking days in Fallout 3, No computer was safe. Which made me think of a 6th point: If you are not able to hack that nasty computer/dishwasher/blender yet just go outside and kill some molerats till you level up, then you can magically raise your hacking skills and show that computer or whatever who's in charge
  • garnsr - June 21, 2011 4 p.m.

    I think these are more movie examples than games.
  • therawski - June 21, 2011 3:25 p.m.

  • Oliolioliooo - June 21, 2011 1:56 p.m.

    If I can control a blender with some button combos and be my fatality, I consider it a legit hack.
  • Japanaman - June 21, 2011 1:26 p.m.

    The government needs to start a big campaign that displays a big logo saying "WINNERS DON'T USE MODS" or something before each game starts up.
  • ToyBoxGamer - June 21, 2011 12:35 p.m.

    Great article Hoots
  • FauxFurry - June 21, 2011 12:16 p.m.

    That image at #1 is strictly accurate. We all know that the Internet is a series of tubes. That level of accuracy is precisely why BioShock is the greatest thing ever conceived of by mammals of any kind. #2. That's all a matter of opinion, now isn't it? Art is in the eye of the beholder! #3. This one is true if one is uncommonly intuitive, making it more relative than most truths of the world. #5. This is also on the up-and-up. It's called a screw driver. It can hack anything, especially the sonic variety. Four out of five isn't too shabby. Maybe all of these games should be stamped as Edutainment now?
  • 8bitBaby - June 21, 2011 11:22 a.m.

    whot?! are you mad? i hack my blender with my laptop all the time. in fact i hacked it so it runs on voice command now. yep. that is in no way a lie. C:
  • PizzatheHutt - June 21, 2011 10:30 a.m.

    I read this and then hacked a government computer using a Tandy 2600 and a dial-up modem. Now I can play Global Thermonuclear Warfare any time I want. WOULD YOU LIKE TO PLAY A GAME.
  • gamebrain8505 - June 21, 2011 10:14 a.m.

    "pacemaker, I command you to do my biddings!"
  • 510BrotherPanda - June 21, 2011 9:56 a.m.

    #5, with it's list of supposedly hackable objects, made me think of the phrase "Hack the Planet" even though I have never seen the movie it came from... Nice article, Hoots.
  • Pry0citer - June 21, 2011 9:56 a.m.

    LULZ (sec) haha great article.
  • shorty_bobert - June 21, 2011 9:51 a.m.

    Because if Sony put realistic hacking in their games, well, you know... ^insert countless Sony jokes/light potential flame war^
  • TheDigitalG - June 21, 2011 9:41 a.m.

    Funniest article I've read for a while!

Showing 1-20 of 20 comments

Join the Discussion
Add a comment (HTML tags are not allowed.)
Characters remaining: 5000


Connect with Facebook

Log in using Facebook to share comments, games, status update and other activity easily with your Facebook feed.