I've been playing a lot of Watch_Dogs since it came out last week, and I've been really enjoying it. It's the good parts of Assassins Creed meets Grand TheftAuto, with a whole hacker/cyber punk motif laid on top of it. I'm starting to feel some of the repetitiveness, but it's definitely still proving a good game. But it also got me thinking.
The premise of Watch_Dogs is that everything is connected to a single network called ctOS, and that's how the protagonist is hacking into everything. He simply pulls out his phone and downloads bank accounts from cell phones, stops the train from a distance, or changes traffic lights to all turn green. Now, it's clearly science fiction. There aren't one button hacks for people's cell phones and ATMs and traffic lights and on and on, but the basic premise may prove useful as a sort of teaching tool. There are real world examples of people messing with traffic sensors, hacking ATMs, and hacking cars.
One of the points that I often find myself bringing up on the podcast is "Is it good that people are talking about this thing, even if it's not exactly technically correct?" Usually, the answer is yes. It's like that Pink Floyd song, "Keep Talking.". Is Watch_Dogs clearly stylized? Yes. Obviously. But does it provide a sort of platform to bring up actual issues? I think so. I'm definitely not saying that it should be used to spread FUD, but like those commercials with Cave Johnson say, what people don't know can hurt them, and if it takes a game to bridge what we in the security community know and what the general population knows, then so be it.
Unless, of course, Watch_Dogs teaches you to hack into everything and should be banned. But that's just silly.