Revengeance Data Storage – #10 Cryptography, The Scientist’s Morality, and Bad Writing

Some disjointed observations before the big reveal.

There are a couple of things worth mentioning in Raiden’s codec conversation with Boris, and in the next one with Doktor, aside from themes we have already explored.

First of all, Boris positions himself as the man subverting the system from the inside. Officially he wants to appear like one who follows the laws, but actually he “bend[s] the laws when it suits business”, and now he ‘bends’ them out of moral concern, or at least in order to support Raiden. It’s unclear what he means by “bend[ing] the laws when it suits business”, though. Tax evasion? Breaking rules of engagement? Either way it doesn’t sound very promising.

At the end of the call, Boris tells Raiden to increase his “codec encryption”, so that they can communicate in secret. Which is weird, because it means their present conversation at least up until that point, a conversation in which they agree to collaborate, and in which Boris suggests Raiden to increate that encryption, is not strongly encrypted: if someone were to intercept them, they’d already have all the proof they need that Boris and Raiden are still working together. Unwise move.

It’s also the first time the game ever mentions cryptography, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the last as well. I have mixed feelings about this: on the one hand, cryptography is possibly the most important tool we have to preserve privacy and freedom on the internet and in our lives, given the extent to which we rely on the internet to live our lives. To see it used as a form of resistance against oppression is precisely to highlight its value.

On the other hand, it’s bothersome that the connection between cryptography and crime keeps getting reinforced in the mind of the general public, leading to the widespread thought that one only uses cryptography when one has something to hide. It’s only logical that, if that is the mental association, people would try to ban it, as UK’s David Cameron recently proposed: “If I am prime minister I will make sure that it is a comprehensive piece of legislation that does not allow terrorists safe space to communicate with each other.” Immediately, the 4 Horsemen of the infocalypse are mentioned, as a way to terrify people into agreeing.

(As an aside: I wasn’t particularly happy to hear about the film “The Imitation Game.” Granted, I haven’t watched it, maybe it’s spectacularly subversive, or maybe it doesn’t even care about encryption, but from just hearing about it, it seems like another instance in which the association “Cryptography = Bad Guys” is reinforced. Not that that isn’t how it went down, but choosing to tell that specific story at this specific point in time, given the political circumstances, is suspect to say the least.)

Despite some compelling and perceptive writing, (The cutscene with Mistral is still my favourite part of the game) Revengeance can also fall quite low (“Killing isn’t fun and games”). The conversation with Doktor is… just plain weird. I’m not sure why Raiden would be concerned about Doktor’s ability to pilot a helicopter, and Doktor’s “Need I remind you” sounds like a very clumsy way of clueing the player in… to nothing. We know about the technology already. I mean, we have a super-intelligent cyber dog by our side.

“I must say, for the world’s largest PMC, their security procedures are quite poor – quite poor.” [Insert Sony joke here] “Sadly I did not have the necessary permissions to overwrite their plans.” So, their security wasn’t so terrible after all…?

Finally, if he wasn’t a walking stereotype already, starting from the name, Doktor embodies the very narrow-minded archetype of the amoral scientist, with his “Think of the data! The research!” remark. (Not immoral; but outside of moral considerations) In that moment, he sounds dangerously distant from Raiden’s moral outrage – we can imagine Raiden wincing in disapproval. It’s not hard to imagine that he may have chosen to support Raiden only (or mostly) as a way to get his hands on that data. How different are his motivations from those of the scientist working for the bad guys?


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