'Project Perfect Citizen' Is The 'Papers, Please' For The Digital Age


As the fear of personal security rises across the country, that fear is also reflected in the media we consume. Look at the popularity of Mr. Robot, Watch Dogs and the indie game Papers, Please as examples of governments and private companies overstepping boundaries, forcing themselves (and allowing others) into personal lives like never before.

That trend continues with Project Perfect Citizen, a student-made game from Santa Cruz-based developer Bad Cop Studios that is free to download right now on itch.io. In Project Perfect Citizen, players take on the role of an agent with the NSA-like Department of Cyber Police and Security, tasked with investigating the personal lives of multiple people.

Alex Vincent, the producer at Bad Cop, spoke with iDigitalTimes about Project Perfect Citizen and where the studio would be heading next.

No, this isn't Windows 95. This is what playing Project Perfect Citizen looks like Photo: Bad Cop Studios

Project Perfect Citizen is a surveillance storytelling game,” he said, meaning players are tasked with looking through files on a fictional person’s desktop computer to collect evidence and determine if a person is guilty of various crimes. As you would guess, the lines between innocence and guilt are not so obvious. Ultimately, you must decide to arrest or exonerate the person you are investigating.

“You get a really interesting contrast between the job you’re tasked to do and the humanity of the characters you’re going through,” he said. “Each character we have created has a full narrative arc.” This means the story will play out differently based on whether you arrest someone or not. There’s even different stages of being arrested, like holding a suspect for questioning or sending them to jail for a short time.

Digging deep into the lives of everyday people in Project Perfect Citizen Photo: Bad Cop Studios

Project Perfect Citizen marks the first game and release from Bad Cop Studios, and the team has already received recognition for its work. Bad Cop Studios took home the Grand Prize at the 2016 Sammy Awards, a competition at UC Santa Cruz hosted by the Center for Games and Playable Media.

Now that the team has finished school, they are looking to continue working together. “We just graduated from UC Santa Cruz. Everything you see here was built with our own engine,” Vincent said. “What we want to do this summer is go back to the engine, clean things up and make it a little more robust.”

As for the future of Project Perfect Citizen, there could be further development coming in the future. “We’re looking to go to Steam Greenlight, any other platform that’s willing to accept us,” he said.

So what do you think? Will you be downloading and playing through Project Perfect Citizen? Are you interested in seeing more political games like this? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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