Panopticon: a game of data & control



Panopticon is a creative commons licensed, open source game in constant development, meaning that anyone can take the game and adapt it to their own needs. The game grew out of conversations between Maf’j and Chris which Maf’j blogged about:

Met Chris pinchen from Cataspanglish who is currently resident at Lighthouse. He introduced us to Techno Activism at the launch of #TA3MBTN. It was a great event of eye-opening ideas around data retention by governments, surveillance, Prism and educating the public about open data and data protection. Chris and co run Cryptoparty. An event which brings people together to learn more about how to protect their identity and their online shadows and data. We talked about the next Cryptoparty which is on Sunday 1st December. How do you make a tech event more family friendly? we talked about Rootbeans. A version of the game that could be fun, relevant to younger players but exploring the issues core to crypto party.

After a bit of twitter ping pong we came up with Lego Panopticon. In this game players use lego bricks to build surveillance structures by connecting to each other and exchanging ‘bits’. Players with the tallest towers can see the furthest and can therefore ‘help’ the most when it comes to informing other players with valuable information further away from their own vantage point. Becoming the Google or Facebook of the game. We’ll have to meet up and hash this out but it’s exciting.

We met up at Lighthouse and Maf’j already had a version of the game that we could work on. Natalie Kane contributed the mission cards and player descriptions during and after the session and further development has taken place by playing the game at various events and incorporating player feedback into the game rules.

We used Lego as it is cheap and ubiquitous and people automatically know what to do with it. The baseboard can be made from anything, just needing to be laid out as described in the rules. We used the Lego pieces we had to hand (well, those that we could “borrow” from our kids), so you can replace them with any you have available.

Currently we have plans to develop the game for other contexts, do a Minecraft version, a Raspberry Pi Minecraft version and to incorporate it into the Coder Dojo in Luxembourg as well as continuing to develop it through playing. We’d love to see what others do with the game and if you want any further information please get in touch.

Oh yes, stickers and t-shirts will be available soon….


1st version of the game



1st playing of the game at Brighton CryptoFestival



Playing the game at DoubleBlink R&D weekend



Demonstrating the game at Bee Secure

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