The Watch Dogs Movie Wants To Change How You Think About Hackers

Watch Dogs

Fans of both video games and movies are still waiting for the film that will bring the two together perfectly. Ubisoft is working on turning their Watch Dogs franchise into a movie and while much is still in development, they do seem to know what their goal is with the film. The Creative Director for the Watch Dogs brand is actually a hacker himself and when I sat down with him last week he told me that he very much wanted to use the film to change the public perception of the hacker, because the Hollywood tropes regarding them are so terrible.

What I would like to see is for the movie to take the same route we are taking [in the new game]. That means allowing people to discover something they don't know, I would say, behind the curtain of today's technology, so that they ask themselves questions about their daily views of tech, but also to portray the hacking community and the hacker as a positive character. And to differentiate him from the crooks. Because we tend to have this "black hat", "white hat" representation but in the end, there is only hackers and crooks, they just use technology for a means to an end. To me, it's really important that whatever we do with Watch Dogs keeps this in mind and put the hacker as the citizen he is in our technological world.

Hackers in Hollywood movies and TV are always shown the same way. They're skinny nerds sitting in front of keyboards who sit there and type a lot, very quickly. Part of the reason for this is that actual hacking is boring. It involves sitting around and writing computer code. It's not exactly the most exciting thing to put into your movie. However, the biggest issue that Creative Director Thomas Geffroyd has is that the very word "hacker" should really only be used to describe people who use their knowledge and abilities for good.

Most of our exposure to hacking in the real world revolves around attacks on people or businesses that crash websites or reveal people's personal information. This sort of thing is often recreated in fiction and presented as what hacking really is. However, Thomas Geffroyd clearly draws a distinction between hacking and criminal activity. People who engage in that sort of activity are not hackers, they're criminals. Hackers should be viewed in a more positive light because they use their skills to find problems in networks so that they can be fixed. The hacker isn't somebody who works outside of our digital society, but rather a person with a particular skill set that can be utilized within it.

While I couldn't get any specifics about what a Watch Dogs (opens in new tab) movie might look like, it would seem that they may go down a similar path as the upcoming Assassin's Creed movie, which is telling a story within the existing universe of the games, but with wholly original characters. The second game in the series is using a new lead character in a new city, so there's no reason the film could not do the same.

A more realistic look at hackers is probably a good thing in general. We're guessing the Watch Dogs movie won't be two hours of a guy coding in Perl, but it may be something closer to that than we've ever seen before.

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.