Alright you lot, I have it, a new One-Pager: Hacking Minigame.
It’s inspired, in part, by Deus Ex: Human Revolution, but more to the point it is inpired by the entire genre of “computer hacking that looks nothing like computer hacking and everything like Tron”. Hollywood loves it, because real hacking is boring and not cinematic, and video games love it, because real hacking is abstract and complicated, and the audience loves it, because whoa look at those ones and zeroes floating everywhere!
Let’s face it, hacking minigames in computer games are silly. All of them, whether it’s turning hacking into a twin-stick shooter (Sly Cooper) or a twitchy action puzzle (Ratchet and Clank) or Mastermind (Fallout) or whatever, it’s silly. But necessary, in its way. And you know what? Pretty fun. We love them, for the most part, for the same reason we love minigames in general… a break from the normal, a chance to use some different skills and calm down from the action and jumping, and a chance to see things in bright, neon green.
(Seriously, hacking minigames are, if not always green, so often green that developers should be feeling a little bad about themselves for it.)
Of course, tabletop games don’t really rock the minigames often… in part, we suspect, because tabletops are about interpreting abstractions, while computer games like to present themselves as concrete (i.e.: though you, the player, have thrown some input into a machine which will crunch numbers, compare values, and present you with a particular output coded to this calculation, what your brain registers is you pulling a trigger and a dude’s head exploding), and therefor there’s less need to represent abstractions concretely. “Hacking Minigame” isn’t meant to be a minigame in any meaningful way… though man, if you want to use it like one, go right the heck ahead. Could be useful in an alternate universe scenario, we suppose. No, the Minigame (pronounced “mee-nee-GAH-may”) Corporation is a cyber-punk-oriented globe-spanning evil megacorp, and you are the hackers who are going to take it down, by running through comp-nodes and dousing firewalls in cyber-water and shooting code at sysadmins and banging on the keyboard as fast as you possibly can. WOO!