Torrent Raiders is an arcade-style video game and a dynamic network visualization that addresses issues of domestic surveillance, amidst the Orwellian nature of our “homeland security” (the work is still in progress). Driven in real-time by the activity of bit torrent swarms, Torrent Raiders takes place on the networks created by bit torrent users. Players assist in the distributed surveillance of these torrent swarms, sending information to a central server where it is used to drive further visualizations of this information. The game challenges Internet users, content pirates and government spooks to examine their allegiances and mistrust their computer connections.
The most popular torrents on the web are new DVD releases. These massively populated swarms will be the playing field. The core mechanic of Torrent Raiders revolves around capturing data packets from users on the torrent swarm and identifying their geographical location. Players use their Torrent Raider ship to search and destroy virtual violators in the torrent swarm.
The information gathered by a player in the game is uploaded to a central MySQL database on a companion website. This website will host animated visualizations created in Processing, driven by the aggregated database of information collected by players of the Torrent Raiders game. As more people play Torrent Raiders, the visualizations become more complex, accurate representations of the swarm. Each week, Torrent Raiders will be automatically directed to a new torrent, creating a gallery of visualizations for the shape of torrents passed.
The work is one of the 11 artists/groups awarded commissions by Rhizome to assist them in creating original works of Internet-based art.