‘World, Inc.’ is a critical design interactive game. The game allows participants to speculate on a future in which multi-national corporations have become so powerful that they have outgrown nation-states and taken control over them.
The project was inspired by repeated headlines in the news about the growing strength of corporation and their interaction with state-based economies. These encouraged me to think about the ways in which the world could change if corporations would decide to take their company to the next level and acquire countries.
In the game the player enters a world in which they are completely controlled by a corporation country and its algorithms. The game opens when the player is fired from their job at Facebook, and now needs to not only find a new job, but also a new citizenship. The player’s main task is to do so while dealing with the complexities of a world that has business as a top priority, and is completely governed by AI algorithms, code, and computation.
For example, the player needs to use an app called HireBox, that relies on algorithms and data collection to determine the player’s qualification for job openings available across the world.
As the game develops, the player is also gradually exposed to an underground activist organization, “The 404s”. The group finds new ways to contact citizens by hacking into popular systems and holding secret meetings in specific locations. The 404s subsequently attempts to recruit the player, who can choose to what extent they get involved in the activism of this future world. This additional layer of an underground organization allows the player to decide between following social norms and going against the regime for a better future, which also determines how the story will unfold for them.
The game is played mostly outside the boundaries of the dedicated smartphone app. It makes use of the player’s data streams, such as email, messaging, and location services to do so. The game is always transitioning from platform to platform, requiring players to reply to emails, wait to get a phone calls, and even go to a particular location in their hometown. This game design is intended to give players a sense that they are constantly being tracked and controlled by using multiple media channels.
Furthermore, by using media that is used on a daily basis, the game interleaves with ‘real life’ and invites the player to reflect on the similarities and differences between their life and the game world.