Who has never dreamed of meeting these men and women who have denounced immense environmental, political or even health scandals?
Edward Snowden (the NSA’s mass surveillance programs), Irène Frachon (Mediator), Julien Assange and Chelsea Manning (Wikileaks), “John Doe” (Panama Papers) took the risk of being crushed by the system or even d ” incur prison sentences by disseminating confidential information.
Rubicon offers us even better: playing the role of a whistleblower!
The timing, though unintentional, was perfect. The game was released in October 2021 Rubicon: the conspiracy of silence, at the same time when the bill aimed at improving the protection of whistleblowers was being discussed in committee.
The studio The beautiful Games had the brilliant idea of offering Médiapart a 48-hour Game Jam organized in the media’s own premises. Journalists and game designers of video games have come together in teams to create “real” games, directly inspired by journalistic investigative work or major current events.
Rubicon, the conspiracy of silence is a narrative game in which you play Paula Cole, an executive in charge of food security at Globalia, a major multinational agro-business. The firm is preparing to launch a new product, Globalac. You come home from vacation, and you’re already overworked.
Incomplete product reviews, information hiding, an unexplained change in the security system, an anonymous hacker email, there is clearly something wrong.
You exchange texts and emails with your colleagues and superiors and attend meetings with the big boss. Hybrid Game play lets you choose your answer from different dialogue phrases or from key words. Each of your decisions has an impact on the story.
You have to analyze the documents, decide whether or not to accept a bribe, decide whether or not to protect certain members of your team. Everything is expertly constructed to give you the impression of being this whistleblower from the premises of the case until its revelation to the media.
Like the series Black Mirror, the game is fascinating, sometimes disturbing, in particular because of its resonance with reality. Indeed, the case is in no way fictitious. François Bonnet, co-founder and journalist of Mediapart, explains that each episode of the game is an aggregation of real facts documented by the work of a journalist. The character of Paula Cole is largely inspired by Yasmine Motarjemi, executive director of Nestlé, who had denounced the gap between the group’s discourse and the reality of its practices.
As the screenwriter Thibaut de Corday explains to us, it should not be seen as a moralizing message pointing to the wicked multinationals and their practices, but more a playful invitation to reflect on the subject. Indeed, among the 8 possible endings, not all are happy and none is ideal.
This video game format, imbued with the game mechanics of visual novels or graphic adventure games such as the essential “Life is Strange”, is ideal for raising public awareness of societal problems.
Let us hope that Mediapart is not the only one to “cross the Rubicon” and that publishers, even public institutions, offer games that make us aware of the current problems of our society: school bullying, “fake news”, global warming, secularism, utility of the Universal National Service, etc.
The game is available on PC via Steam (€ 8.99), iOS (€ 4.99) and Android (€ 5.99). Its duration is approximately 5 hours.
Editors: The beautiful Games and Midnight, House Mood, with the partnership of Mediapart.