The political and social ramifications of the Wikileaks saga may be a matter of public discourse, but the systemic intricacies of just how the information leaked remains a bit less easy to discuss. And so Molleindustria, an Italian team of artists, designers and programmers that "aims at starting a serious discussion about social and political implications of videogames," have taken it upon themselves to build a playable version of the Wikileaks scenario.
Leaky World: A Playable Theory
is presented as an interactive interpretation of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange's 2006 essay, "Conspiracy as Governance." On the game's page, Molleindustria points out what they see to be a few flaws in Assange's essay, among them that it is "informed by hacker culture and shares with it all the shortcomings of a technocentric thought." However, they state that they are "firmly against the criminalization of Wikileaks and its founder" and that "the proliferation of platforms for whistleblowers and a broad culture of transparency are critical assets for modern democracies."
In the game itself, players take on the role of the global political elite, steering a red string around the globe and connecting a series of nodes placed over each major city. "You are an abstraction," the game informs players. "You are the sum of all the secret interactions among the political elite. Our power depends on our ability to establish and maintain a global network connecting members of the ruling class. Connect the nodes. Grow the network. Our goal is to establish complete hegemony before the resistance reaches a critical point."
However, if a node becomes too connected it turns white and begins to leak. White liquid representing leaked information slowly fills the bottom of the screen as real-world leaks are displayed, news-ticker-style, across the top. If players can cut off access to a leaking node in time, the flow of information will cease, but it is only a matter of seconds before another node begins to turn white. There is, apparently, a reason that I am not a member of the political elite—in my time with the game I was never able to connect enough nodes to establish complete hegemony.
"Some ideas prosper," the game tells us after the leaking information has flooded the screen. "Some don't, washed away by the tide of history."