Is 'Watch Dogs' Surveillance Game Contest Meant to Be Ironic?
Watch Dogs Screenshot
CREDIT: The 'Watch Dogs' contest asks for a lot of personal information.
If you want a chance to appear in "Watch Dogs," Ubisoft's upcoming video game criticizing the ubiquity of personal information on the Internet, you'd better be prepared to give them some of your personal information on the Internet.
Ubisoft recently updated the official "Watch Dogs" Facebook page with information about the Watch Dogs In-Game Profile Sweepstakes. This promotion offers 15 lucky winners the chance to appear in the final version of the game as nonplayable characters (NPCs). Ubisoft will select 50 others to have their likeness included in promotional materials.
To participate in this contest, though, Ubisoft lays on the irony pretty thick: You'll need to share with the French game developer whatever personal information you share on Facebook. Furthermore, you'll have to link your Facebook profile with your Uplay account (which monitors your progress in Ubisoft games).
Even entering the contest requires the installation of a Facebook app that demands access to your "public profile, friend list, email address and birthday." Verifying your entry requires a photograph, your full name, your occupation and three "novelty" facts about yourself (likely for a character biography, accessible from an in-game codex that keeps track of your friends and foes).
Of course, you'll have to accept Ubisoft's Terms of Service before entering the contest, and verify that you've read them (you probably won't read all the way through, though: they're 55 pages long). Along with the standard clauses that cover Ubisoft's legal bases, the Terms of Service also allow Ubisoft to profit indefinitely from your likeness in "Watch Dogs," if chosen, with only your in-game appearance as compensation.
In fact, even after you remove the Ubisoft app, Facebook warns that Ubisoft may hang onto your data, and you'll have to get in touch with the game developer regarding its own policies. For a game that casts its protagonist as a victim of high-tech surveillance systems and compromising personal information on the Internet, the irony in this promotion is impossible to miss. [See also: 10 Great Games You're Missing]
Of course, if you really, really want the chance to see yourself in "Watch Dogs," these restrictions should not dissuade you. Ubisoft's Terms of Service for the contest are just about the same terms to which you agree every time you play "Assassin's Creed III" or "Far Cry 3" online.
Ubisoft also has no history of misusing fans' personal information — which, by the way, it already possesses if you have a Uplay account.
Whether this is the most incisive promotion in gaming history or simply one of the most paradoxical is anyone's guess. The contest argues — wittingly or unwittingly — that "Watch Dogs" is exactly the kind of critique that a hyperconnected society needs to play and analyze. The game will be released on Nov. 19 for all major platforms.