It’s been a unique experience for me as a Techdirt writer, one who does not delve into the net neutrality debates and posts very often, to watch the effect the wider coverage about net neutrality has had on the general public. Without being scientific about it, there are certain markers for story penetration I notice and have noticed specifically when it comes to net neutrality. For instance, a couple of months ago, my father called me up with a simple question: “What should my position be on net neutrality?” The question itself isn’t generally useful, but the simple fact that a grandfather is even asking about it means something when it comes to the public consciousness of the topic itself. So too is the appearance of the topic and debates on the Sunday news programs. But maybe the most important indication that net neutrality has become, at the very least, a thing the public is discussing is the topic’s appearance in seemingly unrelated venues. Even if the take was wrong, coverage in political cartoons was something cool to see, for instance. But the topic coming up as the theme of a politically-motivated video game is even more exciting.
You may or may not be aware of this, but EpicGames awards grants to developers to make games, called the Unreal Dev Grants. This year, one of the award winners is a team made up of students from the University of Utah, who have developed a game with net neutrality as its theme.
Epic has given Retro Yeti Games a $13,000 grant for its Unreal Engine 4 powered game, 404Sight. The development team is made up of University of Utah students, who decided to create an endless runner game that makes a statement about net neutrality.
According to Epic’s description of the game, 404Sight combines elements from games like Mirror’s Edge, Robot Unicorn Attack, and Wipeout. In the game players try to run as fast as they can through levels before they get throttled by the evil Internet service provider (throttling was one of the many nefarious practices used by ISPs that the FCC effectively banned in its new net neutrality rules that were approved in late Feb.).
A funny, if politically slanted, little game, right? Well, 404Sight is not only scheduled for a PC release, but it has its own Steam page and site. You can see a trailer for the game below.
Again, it might not have the pizzazz of a AAA title, but that isn’t the point of political commentary. Likewise, I wouldn’t expect the sales and playing-base of the game to hit enormous numbers, but it certainly is a sign of the penetration the net neutrality debate is making for something like this to be produced.