Need to Know – The Mass Surveillance Thriller Game

A new game being crowd funded on Kickstarter puts you as a spy for a shadowy government organization. “Need to Know” is a surveillance thriller simulation where you take action spying on the average citizen, analyzing their lives for potential threats. The game will test your abilities and integrity within the clandestine and cutthroat world of the modern intelligence agency – The Department of Liberty. Will you suffocate your citizens’ privacy or aid the underground groups?


IND13, an indie magazine, interviewed the creators of “Need to Know” at Monomyth Games in Australia:

Surveillance is an increasingly hot topic, especially with new ways to ‘spy’ on people seemingly being thought up all the time. But normally games concentrate on the ‘watched’ not the ‘watcher’. Why did you decide to take this approach?

One of the unique things about video games is that they allow players to inhabit a perspective, and make choices which can carry some serious emotional weight. In Shadow of the Colossus, when you get a pang of guilt when you kill your first colossus, it’s not because you saw someone else kill the colossus, it’s because you did it yourself! You’re made to think, “Oh gee, why did I do that?”.

We like the idea of the player being the ‘watcher’, because power bring about conflicts which make things more interesting. If you’re the one being spied on, there’s not too much moral ambiguity there; it’s not really your fault, so you’re the good guy. When you’re the one doing the spying, the line between right and wrong is really put under a spotlight. You’re getting rewarded for looking at private information, like a teenager’s text messages or a sick person’s medical records, on the off chance they have something to hide, which makes you wonder, ‘Is what I’m doing OK?’

In the game, the player can often choose to follow a different path, but who wants to do ‘the right thing’ when toeing the line gets you more money and recognition?

What platforms are you aiming to launch Need to Know on? 

The plan is to release the game on the main desktop platforms: Windows, OSX and Linux. If we can make the game work on console platforms, and if there’s enough interest, we’ll look more into that. The Need to Know world could be a pretty good setting for a mobile game, with shorter assignments that would let players spy on others wherever they are; maybe we could call it Need to Know on the Go!

For now, though, making Need to Know for the desktop is our main focus.

While you are waiting for game to be officially released, you can play a slightly similar game called    Papers Please.

The communist state of Arstotzka has ended a 6-year war with neighboring Kolechia and reclaimed its rightful half of the border town, Grestin.

Your job as immigration inspector is to control the flow of people entering the Arstotzkan side of Grestin from Kolechia. Among the throngs of immigrants and visitors looking for work are hidden smugglers, spies, and terrorists. Using only the documents provided by travelers and the Ministry of Admission’s primitive inspect, search, and fingerprint systems you must decide who can enter Arstotzka and who will be turned away or arrested.

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Started in alternative media in 2009 as the videographer for, became their Social Media director in 2012, created Next Level Bullshit on YouTube in 2015, and now Editor in Chief for Stand back, this is going to get good.
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