Gigglebit: How to hack a Unix system like Lex from Jurassic Park

10 Mar 2015

Scene from 'Jurassic Park' (1993, Amblin Entertainment/Universal Pictures)

Gigglebit is Siliconrepublic’s daily dose of the funny and fantastic in science and tech, unearthing delightful nuggets such as ‘I Know This’, a game based on an iconic Jurassic Park scene.

Any Jurassic Park fan will remember how teenage hacker Lex saved the day with her knowledge of Unix operating systems, delving into the dinosaur-overrun theme park’s computer files in order to get security back online and put some ravenous velociraptors back in their place.

Back in 1993, Lex’s computing skills were helpfully illustrated to the average cinemagoer through 3D rendering of a computer filing system, which was much derided when it first hit the big screen – though it turns out it was based on a real file system UI called FSN.

But even if the file system was somewhat true to life, the typical Hollywood interpretation of hacking presides. In the famous scene where Lex sits down at the computer with the line, “It’s a Unix system. I know this,” she then bashes away at the keyboard, pressing the return key a few times in the process to achieve her aims.

Unix system meme

Cat on computer image by Milles Studio via Shutterstock

And that’s all it takes to hack the files in I Know This, a game created by Renaud Bédard and Gavin McCarthy (with audio help from Adam Axbey and Matthew Simmonds) for Global Game Jam 2015.

The original beta version of the game was crafted in under 48 hours, but Bédard has given more of his time to refine the game since then, fixing bugs and tweaking multiple endings.

I Know This game

Image via The Instruction Limit

I Know This puts wannabe hackers in Lex’s shoes, challenging them to hack specific search nodes in a ‘Neu/Nix’ system in order to find a ‘Golden Folder’ that contains the file they’re looking for. The filenames in the game are lifted from the player’s own hard drive, interpreted in 8.3 format for a truly Nineties feel.

Since ‘hacking’ the files requires little more than typing incessantly and smashing the return key, challenges arise when players encounter files and folders full of viruses and other nasties, while an animated assistant called ‘Clicky’ is more of a hindrance than a help – inspired, of course, by the infamous Microsoft Office paperclip.

I Know This game

Image via The Instruction Limit

I Know This can be downloaded for Windows, Mac and Linux directly from Bédard’s website, The Instruction Limit.

Elaine Burke is the editor of Silicon Republic