All about Powerplay, the new privacy-themed card game from India


Ditch your ordinary playing cards, PowerPlay is here to get you thinking about data breaches and Government intervention

When Ishita Begani, a Delhi-based UX designer, had to finalise the topic for her undergraduate thesis in 2019, she was torn between multiple ideas. What stuck with her was a need to make an impact on society. With the controversial Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019, making the rounds on social media at the time, Ishita became aware of the confusion surrounding data privacy and wondered how to make it comprehensible.

In four months, PowerPlay was born. The 22-year-old designed India’s first privacy card game centred around building awareness about data protection.

Inspired by Cards Against Humanity, a card game known for its crude, Mad-Libs style humour, PowerPlay aims to create conversations about data breaches and help users become informed of the repercussions of intrusive personal data collection by the Government.

Powerplay creator Ishita Begani
 

The game also aims to help users distinguish between public and private data when the Government infringes upon privacy. The approach may also be effective in making people realise their Right to Privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution, helping them exercise it at the time of need. In August 2017, the Supreme Court ruled that the Right To Privacy is a fundamental right for Indian citizens under Article 21 of the Constitution.

Article 21 guarantees the right to life and personal liberty. The announcement came about after the issue of privacy was questioned in light of the Aadhaar controversy. Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF), a Delhi-based digital liberties organisation, now holds the licence to produce Ishita’s creation. It took the organisation about two months to complete the packaging and production before IFF announced the game on on February 9.

Some of the cards’ designs for Powerplay

Some of the cards’ designs for Powerplay  
| Photo Credit:
Ishita Begani

The deck comprises 112 cards of four types — characters, Government events, data points and privacy hacks. The character cards represent different roles in the game, helping give more context to real-life problems, Ishita said over the phone. “For example, health data may be personal and important to a pregnant mother. The character may choose to preserve it, thus giving the player an understanding of why data privacy matters,” she added.

Government event cards put forth significant situations, based on which the game moves forward. This includes ‘bribing for elections’ and ‘Aadhaar data breach’. Data points and privacy hack cards help fuel the game by providing insights to help understand the impact of government events.

Ishita pondered several options before finalising on a card game. While a smartphone app is an interesting source of information, a physical card game will have a more prolonged effect in the minds of players, Ishita said.

Immersive and educational

Data privacy has been an important conversation in the past few years. As technology advances and becomes more accessible, privacy concerns have become imperative. While we have grown up playing entertaining card games like UNO and Sequence, PowerPlay is said to provide an immersive as well as an educational experience.

Other security-oriented games

  • Cyber Chronix and Happy Onlife, by the European Union
  • Interland, a game part of Google’s Be Internet Awesome programme for children
  • Datak, by Radio Television Suisse
  • Data Defenders, by MediaSmarts

“Privacy is intangible since it relates to personal data and people cannot foresee the risks and harms of surveillance,” says Apar Gupta, executive director at IFF. “Ishita has made an engaging game in which people are forced to make choices surrounding their privacy — literally by holding their privacy in their hands!”

PowerPlay is for players above the age of 18, and does not require prior knowledge of laws. The game will be available to IFF Visionaries — those who donate to the organisation on a monthly basis. IFF hopes to champion a culture of awareness in the form of a card game.

While the organisation fights to defend online freedom every day, the card game is a step toward equipping a new generation with information. The game is currently available as part of the Internet Freedom Visionaries membership tier.

Details on how to get Powerplay can be found at internetfreedom.in.

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