A rendering of the video game Watch Dogs 2. Image courtesy Ubisoft

Muni transit ‘hack’ bears striking resemblance to SF-hacking game ‘Watch Dogs 2’

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which runs Muni, was the victim of a malware attack Friday.

This weekend, computers in Muni subway stations proclaimed, “You Hacked,” and fare payment computers were inoperable all of Saturday.

Now some on social media are saying there’s a pretty funny coincidence amidst the attack: Just about a week earlier, publisher Ubisoft released a Playstation 4 and Xbox One game, Watch Dogs 2, about computer hackers duking it out in a digital recreation of San Francisco.

“Man… the Watch Dogs 2 marketing campaign has stepped up,” Tweeted Mark Buckley, a UK-based community manager for a videogame sports group, one of many to tweet about the coincidence.

In Watch Dogs 2 players take on the role of character Marcus Holloway, an Oakland resident and member of the fictional hacking group DedSec. The group’s aim is to hack into San Francisco’s surveillance systems and, writes video game blog Kotaku, “plan high-profile pranks to stick it to the man, and work out of a hackerspace off Dolores Park.”

Kotaku also pointed out the similarities between Muni’s hack and Watch Dogs 2, in a story called “San Francisco Hack Feels Straight Out of Watch Dogs 2.”

“In a lot of ways,” Kotaku wrote, “hacking public transportation to give people free rides, especially on an extended holiday weekend, feels more in line with Marcus’ character.”

Though Muni buses, streetcars and even the notorious ‘Google Bus’ appear in Watch Dogs 2, there isn’t quite a comparable transit hacking option in the video game.

But Ubisoft, the publisher of Watch Dogs (which also has offices in San Francisco), seems to be taking the hacking-coincidence with a good-natured sense of humor.

To wit –– in response to an inquiry from the San Francisco Examiner, Ubisoft Director of Public Relations Michael Beadle wrote “Neither Watch Dogs 2’s Marcus Holloway or DedSec are responsible for any hack of any public transportation system in San Francisco.”

Even if the hack isn’t video game related, it’s a sure bet Muni wishes they could push the “reset” button on the whole affair.

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