These are the best eleven video games to feel like a real hacker.
After all, hacking has recently got big in pop culture. We can see examples of it in very popular movies (insert The Matrix here), as well as many other parts of pop culture, like gaming.
But why does everyone want to roleplay as ONE?
Are these games just a great way to make someone think that they’re a hacker when they’re not?
Let’s find out.
How Hacking Got Mainstream
Many think that one can obtain important knowledge through such video games and develop certain skills that will help them keep up with the current demands in the cybersecurity industry.
This is especially true nowadays since there are tons of games that are made for that exact purpose.
At first, hacking meant exploring or understanding systems more in-depth. However, during the 1980s it started being used by mainstream media to describe an unauthorized intrusion done by a person or a team of people, by manipulating and exploiting technology.
That’s when Hollywood decided to “steal” the definition and just go with it. But these hackers aren’t that similar to reality. Most of the movies from the 80s and 90s depict hackers as just teenagers who are gaining access to devices and obtaining the information they shouldn’t.
A great example is 1983’s WarGames where a teenager by the name of Matthew Broderick almost starts a nuclear war when he gains access to the military’s supercomputer.
According to the owner of Zachtronics, Zach Barth, anything related to hacking that can be found in video games has been inspired by movies. Just like their game, Exapunks, which he describes as a “ Hacker’s fanfiction”.
Barth also suggests that hacking is evident in the mainstream media nowadays because of nostalgia, since cybersecurity has turned into what the movies depicted. Governments, mysteries, conspiracies. It’s all there.
But you’re all here to find some new games where you can be a hacker. And that’s what we will look at next.
The Best Hacking Games On The Market
Hacknet is a fairly simplistic game, much like most of the hacking games out there. It requires the player to spend most of their time in-game typing different commands on a Unix system, to crack the codes of network security and ruin the systems that are connected to it.
And this is all done while you try to get a better reputation amongst an obscure hacking community.
This game requires you to start building a certain number of routing sequences to encrypt your true IP address. Then you will have to dial in and use a program so that you can find the password of the target system, and then gain access to that. All of this is done in a fancy interface reminiscent of WarGames.
Watch Dogs (One, Two, and Legion)
This is the first AAA game series that mainly revolves around hacking. In all of the games, you are taking control of a hacker who has access to a cool set of tools, and it’s all done in an open world environment.
So, do you want to hack traffic lights and cause an accident? You can do that.
In Watch Dogs 2, you will be able to hack into devices like security cameras all over the city, steal cars remotely, as well as gain access to others’ bank accounts which you can then drain all of the money from. You can also take control of electrical currents to control elevators, gates, and anything else that is connected to them. This game is a perfect example of what a teenager would do if they were a hacker.
Another AAA game series, the Bioshock series features a hacking mini-game. While the protagonists aren’t hackers themselves, hacking can be used to interact with certain machines on the game. This mini-game resembles the classic Pipe Dream puzzle game and it allows you to gain access to safes, security cameras, etc.
Going back to lesser-known games, Gunpoint is a fantastic example of how hacking mechanics can connect a video game world with its beautiful puzzles.
The player has access to a device that allows them to alter the wiring in every single level to activate different parts of the level, like elevators. The player can also cause an overload to light switches and power pockets as well as rewire motion detectors, and so on.
In this game, you will be placed in a beautiful city that has a ton of different places you can visit, with its most important part being the BASIC-derivative language that allows the city to run perfectly. If you decide to click on any object while having the hack command equipped (which you can unlock when you get a special key), you will be able to see the code of the object. This way, you can easily change how the object works, by altering some of its properties.
Deus Ex, and more specifically Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, is a game where you play as Adam, who has some hacking skills in his arsenal.
Adam can bypass most keypads as well as terminals and many other obstacles by hacking them. While it isn’t the best of abilities to have, you should invest in Hacking: Stealth, since it significantly reduces the chances of your hacks being detected.
This has to be the most accurate of hacking games. You will need to read an actual manual to repair corrupted parts of a pre-written code on an imaginary computer from the 1980s.
In this game, everything other than some system commands is controlled by the player. This will bring you to the dilemma of whether to create a new script, by spending some of your precious time or to use an existing one, which will put you at risk.
You will continuously need to think if a player or their script is trustworthy enough, or if they are just going to steal your money.
Enter The Matrix
Even though it’s not as hacking-focused as the movie, this game is amazing. You will have access to a tool that makes the game immersive, and you will be trying to hack into a system.
Hack ’n’ Slash
This last game is a puzzle one, which might look childish at first, but this shouldn’t fool you.
You will need to use your sword to change an object’s code, hack the behavior of creatures, and even rewrite some parts of the game’s code.