WikiLeaks: A Tale of Two Video Games

By Sam Machkovech

When any scandal comes to light in the modern age, a cheesy Flash game is sure to follow on your web browser. Wikileaks saw its gaming debut last week on a French gaming site (hence the site's name, Jeux Jeux Jeux), pitting you, Julian Assange, against Barack Obama's laptop. You hide under the Oval Office desk, then hop out to steal files when the President takes a nap.

It's amusing in a ludicrous way, but I only mention it to point out a far more interesting "game." Cablegate: The Game works by giving players points for scrutinizing the zillions of Wikileaks files. Users log in, then read through as many documents as they want, highlighting key phrases and tagging them as a name, organization, place, or topic. If other users agree with your tags, you get points, so accuracy and specifics are rewarded by aggregating the hive mind, and the site saves your point tally should you decide to return again and again and again.

It's a data parser's dream. By turning research-level study of the documents into a game, the community not only gets a clearer picture of how key names and events reappear throughout the mass of cables, but that data has also already been auto-corrected by a huge community. Cablegate: The Game takes the hottest trends in modern gaming—social connections, "achievement" point scores—and makes them purposeful. Researchers, take note.

(h/t: Slashdot)

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2010/12/wikileaks-a-tale-of-two-video-games/68321/