Behind the headlines: Real world hacking and Watch Dogs 2


Tech journalist Violet Blue and Ubisoft game developer Thomas Geffroyd will speak about the appeal and challenges of creating realistic fiction in Watch Dogs 2, a game about a “hacktivist” cyber gang set in the hacker culture of San Francisco.

They’ll talk about the game and its eerie resemblance to real life at our upcoming GamesBeat Summit 2017: How games, sci-fi, and tech create real-world magic.

GamesBeat Summit 2017 will take place on May 1 and May 2 at the historic Claremont resort hotel in Berkeley, California, just a short distance from San Francisco. You can secure your seat here. Register today and receive 20 percent off current ticket prices. Use the code Deantak.

Watch Dogs 2, which came out during the holidays in 2016, helped inspire our theme about the inspiration that happens between real-world technology and realistic science fiction.

Above: Author Violet Blue was a consultant for Ubisoft on Watch Dogs 2.

Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

At its core, the Watch Dogs brand is about creating entertaining gaming experiences that explore the potential implications of digital technology while remaining grounded in the reality of hacker culture. We’ll learn how the developers applied this methodology to Watch Dogs 2 and drew inspiration from the real life hacker community and recent instances of cybercrime for its narrative. The game’s setting in San Francisco gives it an eerie familiarity for those of us who live in the region.

“The game is people I know, without actually being people I know,” said Blue.

Blue is an author and a noted reporter on hacking and cybercrime, reporting for outlets including CBS News and CNET, as well as blogs and TV shows. She is an oft-quoted pundit on digital privacy and safety, hacking culture, security, and digital crime who has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show and CNN. She writes the weekly Engadget column “Bad Password” and is the author of The Smart Girl’s Guide to Privacy. She served as an advisor on Watch Dogs 2 and is also an advisor for information security startup Peerlyst and the privacy nonprofit Without My Consent. Find her on Twitter @violetblue.

Geffroyd is brand content director for Watch Dogs at French video game publisher Ubisoft. Thomas has been working in the video game industry for 15 years, focusing on brands and content. This led him not only to work on major brands (Splinter Cell, Rainbow Six, Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry) but also to be part of various new intellectual property developments within core teams.

He decided to join the Watch Dogs brand for the long haul, bringing with him a long history and passion for hacking and the hacking culture, used daily to support both game development and brand efforts.

Thomas was a key leader of the Watch Dogs 2 brand efforts and acting as first line hacking consultant. He went to Defcon hacker shows for many years and Blue introduced him to hackers in the community so that Ubisoft could create add realism to Watch Dogs 2.

 

Blue and Geffroyd join a cast of speakers who are among the who’s who of games, as well as the related industries that are inspiring game makers.

Other speakers include Michael Condrey and Glen Schofield, founders of Sledgehammer Games; Rod Chong, chief commercial officer of Slightly Mad Studios; Laszlo Kishonti, CEO of AImotive; Ted Price, CEO of Insomniac Games; Mike Gallagher, CEO of the Entertainment Software Association; John Underkoffler, CEO of Oblong Industries and science advisor for Minority Report; Gary Whitta, the screenwriter for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story; Richard Marks of Sony PlayStation; Akshay Khanna of the Philadelphia 76ers; Greg Richardson of Team Dignitas; Megan Gaiser, CEO of Spiral Media; Guy Bendov, CEO of Side-Kick Games; Rami Ismail, cofounder of Vlambeer; Asra Rasheed, executive producer at Disney; Asi Burak, founder of Power Play; Tim Sweeney, the CEO of Epic Games; Owen Mahoney, the CEO of Nexon; Rich Hilleman of Amazon Game Studios; Chris Roberts, CEO of Roberts Space Industries; and Jamil Moledina of Google Play.

Above: Chris Roberts of Roberts Space Industries.

Image Credit: Roberts Space Industries

Inspiring moments lead to disrupting the worlds of gaming, tech, and entertainment. Who hasn’t been influenced by great novels like Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, which gave us virtual worlds, or Tom Cruise’s data gloves and gesture-controlled computer in Minority Report? Now those things have become real, and we want to see what’s coming next.

Our theme is about what inspires game developers, executives, and investors to be creative. Part of the event will focus on the inspiration cycle that is accelerating as the walls between science fiction, video games, and real-world technology come down. We don’t think there’s another conference that focuses on the seams between these industries.

This event will focus on inspiration and creativity. So much of what used to be science fiction is coming true, and it is inspiring even more accelerated visions of the future in games and other entertainment. We hope to inspire you by taking you to the moments that led to great ideas across multiple industries. You’ll leave refreshed and ready to change the worlds of gaming, technology, and more.

We think this conference will offer a rare chance for cross-pollination and networking between high-level people in different industries, and we believe that insights in one place can lead to inspirations in another.

This conference is for high-end gaming executives, startup CEOs, developers, investors, publishers, marketers, tech experts, entertainment industry professionals, sci-fi experts, AR and VR executives, and other professionals. I should also point out that this is where we try to create an actual GamesBeat community with our supporters, readers, and attendees. We gather the right people in the room and encourage everyone to get to know each other. Join us.

If you’re interested in sponsoring, message andie.rhyins@venturebeat.com. Thanks to our sponsors Samsung, Intel, Blackstorm, and Gazillion.

Breakout sessions

  • Intersection of sci-fi, games, and tech
  • Monetization: How to acquire and retain your user base
  • Deals: Follow the money
  • Esports and community
  • Is the gaming world flat?
  • Platforms: Where to place your bets? VR, AR, and more

Advisory board

  • Sam Barlow, game developer of Her Story and creative director at Interlude
  • Michael Chang, senior vice president at NCSoft
  • Daniel Cho, chairman at Innospark
  • Jay Eum, managing director, Translink Capital
  • Clinton Foy, chairman of the Immortals and managing director at Crosscut Ventures
  • Megan Gaiser, co-CEO at Spiral Media
  • Lee Jones, global business lead Google Ads
  • Perrin Kaplan, principal at Zebra Partners
  • Roy Liu, general manager at Linekong USA
  • Wanda Meloni, executive director of the Open Gaming Alliance
  • Jamil Moledina, game strategic lead at Google Play
  • Adam Orth, founder at Three One Zero
  • Mihai Pohontu, vice president of emerging technologies at Samsung
  • Mike Sepso, cofounder of MLG and senior vice president at Activision Blizzard
  • Mike Vorhaus, president of Magid Advisors
  • Margaret Wallace, CEO of Playmatics
  • Marco DeMiroz, cofounder, The Venture Reality Fund

I’ve been writing about our theme for a while — the accelerating cycle of inspiration between tech, games, and science fiction. I interviewed Shane Wall, HP’s chief technology officer, about the connection between sci-fi and tech. The Westworld TV show also explored the seams between artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and video games.

This post is part of the PC Gaming channel, presented by the Intel® Game Dev program.