(cityofsound) Watchdogs and world-creation

So while there are lots of luscious details in these short sections of Watch Dogs: from the satirical take on the opening of a clichéd media arts exhibition through to the mis-en-scene being delicately traced with the digital exhausts of the city’s populace, the key thing for me comes in another preview video for Watch Dogs featuring a voiceover from the game’s creative director.

He says:

“Everything you’re about to see is Just another day in the city. There is no mission and no objectives … You’re creating your own experience by tapping into peoples’ lives. What’s cool about it, is that the possibilities are endless.”

That’s it. No Mission, no objectives. But the endless possibility of the city generates the experience. Just as with a real city, essentially, albeit in rather different ways.

Of course, this being a game, there is a plot. And the main protagonist has “super-powers” that are not really that “super” at all, but a gentle extrapolation of today’s consumer tech, in which he can access any digitally-mediated infrastructure in the immediate vicinity.

“You’re going to control the entire city of Chicago …”, says the art director, noting how you can access and redeploy any infrastructure lying around, from ATMs to air-conditioning units, traffic lights to bollards. And then, this being a game, he says “Even the smallest thing can become a weapon.”

But while the idea of hacking the city’s tech clearly presents strong narrative possibilities, it looks like Watch Dogs will be enjoyed on a whole other level: that no-narrative narrative of the city unfolding itself for you.