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8 Dystopian Surveillance-State Video Games


Very much in keeping with the times this list explores eight dystopian surveillance-state themed video games that are all but guaranteed to make you question the reality in which you live.   Reflecting the seemingly unstoppable slow-march towards the complete totalitarian control of every aspect of our lives, by big-tech and government agencies, where we currently find ourselves heading, before, and (arguably) accelerated by the recent Coronavirus pandemic.  

Orwell - Keeping An Eye On You

Big Brother has arrived - and it's you.  If you've ever wondered how it feels to be a surveillance state agent working on behalf of the "party" to monitor and report on your fellow citizens, "Orwell - Keeping an eye on you", and it's more recent sequel "Orwell - Ignorance is strength", are two games that place you somewhat uncomfortably (for most of us at least) within that role.  Named after the esteemed author, George Orwell, who all but wrote the dystopian play-book (or at least warned us of it's coming many years ago) you utilize the Orwell system to spy into the activities of "people of interest" within the game.  Listening in on private communications, and compiling pertinent "data chunks" from a variety of information sources such as news articles and social media feeds, in order to determine who is, and who isn't, an enemy of the state... 

Do Not Feed The Monkeys

Similar to Orwell in that you find yourself in the place of a surveillance-agent within this interesting game, in Do Not Feed the Monkeys you are an operative of the "Primate Observation Club" - a shadowy group that observes other people through surveillance cameras and compromised webcams.  With the "monkeys" of course, being "we the people".  Described as being a "voyeurism simulator" Do Not Feed the Monkeys provides a somewhat more comical take on the subject of surveillance.  While still providing an interesting journey into the world and questionable morality of those who are charged with monitoring the private moments of unsuspecting everyday folk such as you or I...


In Beholder you play a government-installed landlord in a totalitarian state, and despite it's more cartoony characters and art-style, I personally found this one of the most unsettling of all of the games on this list.  Your role as an agent of the state is to spy on the residents of the housing-block you manage, installing surveillance cameras, eavesdropping on private communications, and snooping through people's personal belongings, while reporting your findings to your superiors, all in a bid to provide for manage the needs of your clearly beaten-down family.  Raising the question of "what would you do" to provide for those you love.  While all the while teetering on the edge of falling foul of the same agency you find yourself in the employment of at every turn... 

Need to Know

Not unlike Orwell, Need to Know, places you in the employment of the "Department of Liberty".  An NSA-styled surveillance agency tasked with monitoring the activities of the world's citizens in order to gather evidence of potential subversives.  Use all of the tools at the agencies disposal to pick through the private lives and deepest secrets of any and all who might pose a threat to the "security" of the state, and the governing powers.  Facing you as the player with the dilemma that all of the games on this list ultimately pose:  will you stand up for freedom, or aid in the creation of the ultimate police state(?)... 

Not For Broadcast

A game in a similar vein but taking a different tangent comes, Not For Broadcast.  At a time when you can't have escaped the chants of "FAKE NEWS!" coming from every corner and angle, with big-tech labeling any information coming from an unapproved source as being "misleading and/or false", while citizen journalists and even most notably the current president of the U.S. calling out mainstream-media as being "the enemy of the people", Not For Broadcast places you in control of the nightly news.  In what is a highly immersive propaganda sim game,  and one of the more interesting dystopian themed games of recent times, you find yourself in the position of deciding exactly what the unsuspecting "sheeple" get to see, or perhaps more importantly, don't see, as you explore the murky world of social-engineering through media-manipulation... 

Three More Games with a Dystopian Twist

While the following three games don't specifically fall within the surveillance-state theme.  If you're a fan of dystopian flavored games, you might also want to take a look at these:

RIOT - Civil Unrest

Riot - Civil Unrest, is a "riot simulator" and strategy game that explores some of more notable uprisings of recent years, including the Yellow Vests / Gilets Jaunes populist movement that tore through France, and beyond back in 2019... 

Not Tonight

Not Tonight is a game that explores life in a post-Brexit Britain, within which an "extreme far right" government has taken power.   A politically charged game in which every decision matters.  Will you join the resistance or fight the regime? - only you can choose... 


And to end this list of dystopian video games on a slightly more adorable-bent, comes "Anarcute".  Because if you've had enough of all of the surveillance you partook in, in the darker grimier games listed above, and need a palette-cleanser, then it's time to rise-up, and overthrow the powers that be, with the help of your colorful and cute animal-pals, in what is almost definitely the most endearing riot simulator ever created... 



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