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BlackHackZ

February 2013

BlackHackZ was a one day LARP (Live Action Role Play) in February 2013, organised by Stichting Lore-ley. The setting: a festive meeting of the gothic hacker community BlackHackZ, in a cellar by the canal in Utrecht. The game: a combination of roleplay, a hacking simulation, and our own variant of Werewolves of Miller’s Hollow... The invited hackers already knew beforehand that something fishy was going on in the community: there were rumours of infiltrators who meant them harm. Once on site, however, a lot more turned out to be wrong.

To reallly give the players the feeling of being hackers, we had developed a mini game to serve as a hacking simulation. By logging in to the game server, players could scan and attack each other’s accounts but also, for example, those of large companies—if they managed to discover the IPs. It was a tactical game in which timing, cooperation, and choosing the right balance between attack, defence and encryption, played an important role. The system worked completely on its own, allowing the players to spy on or deface each other’s profiles to their heart’s content while the organisers concerned themselves with the rest of the story.

After all, there were infiltrators present who wanted to cause BlackHackZ’s downfall, and the only way to prevent that was to deprive them of access to the central server. But first these rotten apples had to be identified, and meanwhile the infiltrators themselves tried to get rid of as many loyal BlackHackZ members as possible. Every hour the entire group voted for a presumed infiltrator’s account to be deleted, and the infiltrators did the same for one of the ‘loyalists’. Apart from this, certain players had special skills they could use to protect accounts or discover someone’s secret role. Players whose account was deleted could still participate in all other aspects of the game, but at the end of the day, the story’s ending was decided by those who had ‘survived’.

While this digital battle played out, the atmosphere at the party became more grim when the leader of the community was forced to resign; someone or something on site seemed to have secret knowledge about the identity of some of the hackers; clues surfaced about an ambitious project by the mysterious heads of BlackHackZ about whom, previously, nothing more was known than their usernames; and the players finally came into contact with an artificial intelligence.

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