Game thinking from Adam Clare

Tag: CIA

An Internet Mystery: What is Cicada 3301

Cicada 3301

This image showed up on various image boards in January of 2012 and it caught people’s imagination. Joel Eriksson recorded his adventure looking into the mystery and it feels like it could be the start of an Alternate Reality Game (ARG). Or is it?

According to this article on Cicada 3301 there is potentially a lot more to this than meets the eye. That article is also the best synopsis of this bizarre mystery.

“This is a dangerous organisation,” he concluded, “their ways are nefarious.” With no other clues, it was also asssumed by many to be a recruitment drive by the CIA, MI6 or America’s National Security Agency (NSA), as part of a search for highly talented cryptologists. It wouldn’t have been the first time such tactics had been used.

Back in 2010, for example, Air Force Cyber Command – the United States’ hacking defence force, based at Fort Meade in Maryland – secretly embedded a complex hexadecimal code in their new logo. Cybercom head Lt Gen Keith Alexander then challenged the world’s amateur analysts to crack it (it took them three hours). And in September this year, GCHQ launched the “Can You Find It?” initiative– a series of cryptic codes designed to root out the best British cryptographers. As GCHQ’s head of resourcing Jane Jones said at the time, “It’s a puzzle but it’s also a serious test – the jobs on offer here are vital to protecting national security.”

It could be a recruitment tool, but I like Reddit user Glizzard’s take. In the same thread, user Mirus provides helpful links to understand the past of Cicada 3301:

More info:

2012 Part 1 Part 2

2013 Part 1 Part 2

The discussion over at MetaFilter is concerned more about ski resorts than the mystery at large.

Will you solve the Cicada 3301 puzzle in 2014?

Video Games are Propaganda for the Military(?)

Recently I posted about the Canadian military using virtual reality to treat PTSD, and with that in mind I think it’s time to take a look at the idea that video games are used as training and propaganda tools.

A few months ago an article in the Guardian looked at using video games as propaganda and they looked closely at Kuma Games. Kuma is best known for their game Kuma\War games that take recent battles from headlines and lets players re-enact them in the game itself.

It turns out that Kuma may have received financing from the CIA to produce propaganda games (of course there’s no direct proof – yet). This revelation came out because Iran accused a game developer of aiding the enemy and sentenced him to death. The case has since been overturned and will likely be reassessed.

Kuma aside, we cannot ignore official government-sanctioned efforts like America’s Army which is considered soft propaganda like the movie Top Gun. There are other examples covered in the article that are worth looking at too.

If people think that a video game is anything close to the monotony of actual military service they have another thing coming.

I’ll leave you with this:

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