As a child of the 80s, one of my favorite movies was — and will always be — WarGames. The idea of a computer that could unintentionally bring Cold War tensions to a head is the sort of thing that made Commodore 64 owners squeal with delight.
But have you ever wondered what it might have been like if the story unfolded on the other side of the globe?
K.O.M.R.A.D. is the story of a long-forgotten Soviet supercomputer that wants to be your friend (that may or many not be as threatening as dealing with nukes and / or Matthew Broderick). Like Lifeline, K.O.M.R.A.D. is a gamebook that plays out in real time and supports the Apple Watch, should you be fortunate enough to own one.
Your phone or Apple Watch chimes with a text message from an unknown number. In broken English, you’re informed that your online accounts have been hijacked — passwords changed, identity stolen. You can get it all back in return for a simple task: hack into a Russian computer untouched since the 1980s and probe it for useful information. How, exactly? That’s where your people skills come in, because K.O.M.R.A.D. isn’t any ordinary computer — it’s an experimental Soviet artificial intelligence that doesn’t know the Cold War ended.
It should be interesting to see how this one plays out in terms of originality. At a glance, it seems easy to write this off as “another Lifeline-inspired gamebook,” but the lead designer on this is Brad Becker — aka the former Chief Design Officer of IBM’s Watson. If anyone knows a thing or two about AI and supercomputers, it’s Becker.
Expect to see K.O.M.R.A.D. on the iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch “soon.”