What is it?
Top Secret is a narrative-driven game played in real-time by email. It’s an exploration of the issues raised by the Snowden leaks.
The game was successfully Kickstarted in 2015 and was released in September 2016.
How does it work?
Top Secret unfolds in real-time over 2 weeks. Players take on the role of an NSA agent tracking down the source of Top Secret leaks. They email selectors (names, email addresses, phone numbers) to their NSA team and receive surveillance reports on their chosen targets. The player must analyse the intel to choose their next target.
James Long says “If you have an email address, you can play Top Secret. There’s no software to install, or mechanics to learn. It’s a unique way of storytelling and you soon start to forget you’re playing a game.”
Top Secret is a game about surveillance in which the player’s own play is surveilled. Every email you send whilst playing the game can be intercepted and read by the NSA or GCHQ. To prevent this, Top Secret supports the encryption method used by Edward Snowden - Pretty Good Privacy (PGP). Players can send and receive encrypted emails from the game which even the NSA can’t decipher.
About James Long
James Long is a UK-based games developer and creator of Top Secret. At University, he was BAFTA nominated in the “Ones to Watch” category and a winner of the international student games competition “Dare to be Digital” with his friends in Team Tickle. He then spent 3 years at Turbulenz where he worked on games such as Oort Online and The Marvellous Miss Take before leaving in 2015 to go independent.
A strong believer in digital rights, James wants Top Secret to highlight the issues raised by the leaks in a new way. He loves narrative-based games and says Top Secret is the kind of game he wanted to play, but didn’t think anyone else would make.
Zipped folder of all high quality assets HERE.
Replying to an email in the game
NSA HQ, Fort Meade, where the story unfolds
Decrypting a game message using PGP