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Real World Digital Forensic Adventure: A New Game Genre
by Rui Curado on 06/17/13 10:25:00 am

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

This blog entry is not only about a new game, it's also about a whole new genre of games: Real-world forensic adventures.

The Concept

Imagine that something had happened. Something big. Traces of that event have been left on the Internet, by people and organizations that were involved. Text, codes, photos, documents, chat logs, clues, riddles. Anywhere on the Internet.

Putting your forensic investigator helmet (I mean, hat) on, you go out to cyberspace looking for things that will help you solve the case. Your challenge is to find the truth. And the truth is somewhere out there, on the Internet. When you play, you are not trapped in the traditional sandbox provided by some software that tells you what you can and can't do. You're out in the wild.

The Internet is millions of times bigger than a computer game sandbox. Are you up to the challenge?

All you have is your own device (computer, laptop, tablet or phone), and probably an isolated clue. You must set your research methods, work at your pace, choose whatever software tools you have within reach to help on the investigation.

In a real-world forensic adventure, you might find some answers on a news story on CNN or on the New York Times. Something about a real company or real person might help you proceed. The President might be involved. It's so intertwined with reality you'll be left wondering if it didn't really happen.

Your job is real. The game is real. Boring to some, exciting to others.

First Attempt : Mark Lane's Logs: Project H.U.M.A.N.

Mark Lane's Logs : Project H.U.M.A.N.

Mark Lane's Logs: Project H.U.M.A.N. redefines the way you play a game. It does not run on software. There's no traditional App or software you need to download and run to play. This game runs on evidence, on your brain. How?

A SMS message from Mark Lane is all you start with. From there, you'll have to replicate his mission, find what he found, and live the adventure he lived. Each piece of evidence you find helps you discover a part of the story, solve a problem or riddle, leading to more evidence, and making you progress in the game.

The Story

Mark Lane, retired CIA agent, is forced to carry out one last mission: dismantle an elusive terrorist organization, infiltrated in the American military, and the CIA. A swarm-type device is being developed, right under DoD's nose. An attack on US soil is imminent. Mark carries out a solo worldwide intelligence mission to eliminate this threat. However, he finds more than he expected. He finds a secret society. He finds himself in the middle of a federal conspiracy to steal the Pentagon's ultimate weapon. He is betrayed by those he trusted and is set to die as a traitor to the USA. He dodges his destiny by escaping, but is fiercely hunted down. He has nowhere to go. You're Mark's last hope. He left a trail of evidence that you must uncover. Find out what happened, collect enough evidence, and bring the case to justice.

This is the tip of the story. As you progress you'll find, like Mark did, that he was living a fabricated reality, being a puppet of hidden forces. The story has enough twists to keep you going for more.

See the game's video trailer

Gaming Experience

You join this game as a CIA OIG FIB forensic investigator. CIA's Office of the Inspector General (OIG) is the entity that oversees CIA's activities. The OIG has recently created the Forensic Investigation Bureau (FIB). The FIB lets members of the general public, like you, help OIG's efforts by providing credible evidence to open a formal investigation and bring new cases to the supreme court. You'll be competing with many other OIG FIB investigators. Only the best will make the Agency Top Forensic Investigator's Hall of Fame.

What will you find? First, you'll find Mark Lane's logs: Timed, situated, concise reports of everything Mark did and his interactions with other people. Then, you'll find photos. Yes, Mark took many photos during his mission. You'll be able to see what he saw, what he did, what he found, as if you were there too.

You'll also find documents, old and new, strange objects, bizarre-looking symbols, and many other stuff you must deal with. In the middle, you'll have to apply your skills to investigate and complete Mark's own findings, solve his own puzzles and riddles, understand clues, connect the dots. You must organize your findings, take notes, search, connect, locate, solve, think, and ultimately report back to CIA's OIG FIB. The more evidence you collect, the higher you will score.

A Visual Novel

Besides being a game, it's also a fiction novel. The game's spinal cord are Mark's logs: He has left a first-person view of the whole story. These logs are chained and laid out in a narrative style. Even if you don't progress much in the game, you can still enjoy Mark Lane's Logs : Project H.U.M.A.N. as a traditional fiction novel.

What Really Sets This Game Apart

  • No download needed to play. You find, download and manage evidence on your device as you progress.
  • True digital forensic investigation.
  • Simultaneously a forensic adventure and a fiction novel.
  • Realistic story. Is based on and includes real-world news, facts and entities.
  • Everything on the game is a depiction of the real world. There are no 3D renders or drawings, just photos, documents, etc.
  • No game sandbox. Investigation is carried out on the open Internet.
  • You can use whatever software tools you have within your reach to help on the investigation.
  • It's you who defines the gameplay.

Find Out More!

See the game's page on IndieDB for images (real-world, of course), news and videos!

Originally published on IndieDB.


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