Hacker-Themed Video Game Debuts: Page 2

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Guay said technology is now making it possible to foresee a world not unlike that in British writer George Orwell's novel "1984," in which Big Brother watches and controls everything.

Orwell "had an extreme view of that dystopian world at that time," he said. "I think we're seeing a time where the technology has caught up to his views" where the technology would enable his dystopian world to exist.

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In "Watch Dogs," Pearce starts off seeking revenge for a loved one, but as he finds out more about the city, through hacking into its systems and inhabitants, he becomes a "vigilante," according to Montreal-based Guay.

"Most of the hacks that we have in the game are based on stuff that's happened in the real world," Guay said. "We just happened to give them all to a single player."

He pointed out the rise of "smart cities" in which traffic, utilities and other systems are optimized by centralized computing networks. Guay was adamant that the game makes no value judgment on the complex and sensitive issue.

"We're not trying to be moralistic about it," he said. "But we're hoping that players, when they've finished the game, maybe start a conversation," he added.

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Versions of "Watch Dogs" have been tailored for play on Sony's new-generation PlayStation 4 and Microsoft's Xbox One as well as the previous generation of those consoles.

The game, priced at $60 in the US, can also be played on computers powered by Windows software.

Ubisoft added the ability for people playing "Watch Dogs" on consoles to take on in-game challenges from friends using a companion application on smartphones or tablets.