back to article Mac art project game destroys aliens files

A Mac game that deletes users' files has sparked a debate about whether it's malware or not. The Space Invaders-style game deletes a file from the Mac home directory every time a user destroys an alien ship. The application, released as part of an art project, clearly warns this is what it does... in big red letters (link to …


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  1. Dale 3


    Kinda a stupid idea, isn't it?

  2. Daniel B.

    No they're not...

    "Mac enthusiast blogs, such as Cult of the Mac, have criticised the move as treating Mac fans as just as dumb as Windows users."

    They're actually dumbER. The "Mac has no virus" argument has been toted for so long that Mac fans will no longer be wary of suspicious programs as for them, the Mac will never have malicious stuff like virii or trojans and such.

    As for the game ... it looks like something the BOFH would do... does anyone remember the DOOM game where the mobs represented networked-PCs???

  3. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    "Seriously, what do security software companies take us for?"

    Challenged Mac Users in VIP Lounge Uproar Shocker....

    Still, an interesting game. The only way to win is not to play.

  4. Chris Thomas Alpha
    Thumb Up

    the most awesome video game evar!!!

    I mean, how else are you going to keep stupid people from the interwebs AND at the same time, keep them occupied so they can't post stupid twitters on what they did today, or facebook posts about how many girls hate them.

    omg, awesome face!

  5. LaeMi Qian

    some idiot...

    ...will always touch the fence to see if it really is electrified. I guess that is what passes for 'art' these days.

    If the BOFH ever gets caught with an occupied carpet roll, he can always plead 'art'.

  6. ElReg!comments!Pierre

    PSDoom anyone?

    And it's privilege-based, so no-one kills the BOFH*... exxxcellent.

    Also there is a Quake-based network management tool around, but it badly lacks monsters and could even be used sensibly. Lame.

    *but himself, of course.

  7. yossarianuk

    Bit like Brutal File manager

    - The rocket launcher is fun, also love the way files bleed when you delete them

  8. Christopher Martin

    So what, anything capable of deleting files is dangerous?

    A person with malicious intentions could tell someone that adding "alias vim=rm" to .bash_profile installs a game. The results could be disastrous. Looks like Symantec needs to classify rm as malware.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Totally bonkers

    Congrats to the Dev - 10/10 for originality

  10. Jeremy Chappell


    As a piece of "art" it's quite interesting, killing things leads to loss for the player. It makes you think.

    However, while you might think someone would need to be pretty stupid to run this on their own Mac, this is a real threat. Imagine English isn't the person's first language... if the warning had been in Dutch would you have thought the "victim" so foolish? Or if the player is a child.

    So while as an art project it's interesting and thought provoking, it's still malware.

  11. Sean Timarco Baggaley

    The video...

    ... narration tells a blatant lie: that the game warns you that "killing the game" kills your documents. No. It warns you that killing *aliens* deletes your documents. It even tells you which document it's deleting when you kill each alien. Not cool, Symantec. Not cool.

    Seriously, Mac users may not be famed for their awesome PC repair skills, but you'd have to be a complete and utter moron to not know what the game does.

    Malware is software written with *malicious* intent. This game EXPLICITLY tells you what it will do. In big, bold, very obvious warning messages.

    Computers can only mitigate against software like this up to a point. No OS on the planet will prevent you deleting your *own* files if you tell it to, either directly, or indirectly (by running a game which deletes them for you).

    The missing link is education—an unfashionable concept for many. AV and anti-malware snake-oil merchants wouldn't make anywhere near as much money if it weren't for the wilfully ignorant.

  12. Wrenchy

    Need your data wiped???

    ....There's an A

    Ok ok. I'm outta here....

  13. James 55
    Thumb Up


    Thats pretty good.

    It should delete files when you die though, THAT would make it an adrenaline pumping game/good drinking game.

  14. John F***ing Stepp


    Evidently a couple of Doom interfaces out there, I liked the one that would kill-9 a process.

    Ctr-alt-pipe the SOBs before they can reproduce; evolution in action in the digital world.

    No PIDy.

    I will now stop |.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    As good Mac owners you'll have a Time Machine backup anyway, so no harm in the long run.

    (just as long you remember to disconnect your TM during play...)

    Incidentally, Leyden neglects to mention that the game deletes itself when your ship is destroyed.

    Genius! When can we see a Windows version?

  16. Andy 4


    takes me back to the app I wrote based around russian roulette ..

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    How come this is newsworthy now? I first read about it back in september (on neatorama IIRC) and the general consensus back then was was that Gage is a cock if he thinks that people need it explaining that killing things has consequences. The point being that most normal people can tell the difference between a game and real life and don't need some "artist" to spell out morality in ten foot high letters. It's a shite analogy anyway for a number of reasons, the main ones being that killing something would not necessarily have such direct 1:1 consequences and that you can't back up real stuff against such consequences. I play this game I restore some files or maybe I just sneakilly play with permissions to prevent the game from deleting files. Wow Zach that's like such a deep analogy of life and death. Or not.

    Or maybe the "news" is that some "security" experts are treating it as a trojan. Well I don't think it's news that AV firms tend towards cockishness as well.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    treating Mac fans as just as dumb as Windows users.

    Oh God. Heh heh, *snark*

    Do they mean that only savvy users buy macs? That is bad news for Apple, they will never gain a dominant position in the market...

    That said, I remember that after having a laptop PC for two years, I was told I was completely crazy not to have an antivirus installed, and there were certainly many viruses on it already... I did install the antivirus, which happily confirmed that there was not a single virus on the laptop. Is it so hard not to install trojans on your own system?

    Or are all users as savvy as PH?

  19. Adrian Esdaile
    Thumb Up


    Total Win! What a top game. Definitely what I would call ART.

    And would seem to point to file browsers and the 'DELETE' key being classed as malware too!

  20. Mike Flugennock

    ART project?

    An _art_project_, he calls it?

    Jeezus H., man; don't art schools teach those goddamn' kids to _draw_ or _paint_ anymore?

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Totally idiotic.

    This guy needs to find better things to do with his programming skills, and get a life.

    Paris, because this game is dumb.

  22. Chris Harden
    Thumb Up

    Cheerd me up!

    Wow, I was having a crappy day until you guys reminded me about psdoom! I'm gonna spend my day re-creating it for windows and so it trashes network shares (Wait...they beat me to it, isnt that called Network Neighbourhood?) and go and shove it on my bosses computer.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That's brilliant!

    @Destroy All Monsters - As is that.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Massive symantec fail

    Like the game. I'm not going to play it, of course, but I applaud the idea.

    As to the ``someone might modify this'' argument from symantec, well, if you can do that you can write a program that deletes files without requiring you to kill aliens for that.

    Yes, very much not cool from symantec, but then, scaring people makes them buy more protection and that is what symantec sells for a living. Why does el reg support these respected corporate FUD salesmen?

  25. A. Lewis


    Maybe I'm just a cynic. I can't help thinking someone made a crap shooting game, was disappointed when others pointed out it was a crap shooting game, so decided to add file deletion and call it 'art' to get a bit of attention.

  26. dave lawless

    I thought Macs had file history?

    I can do :


    rm -rf $home/*

    9fs snap

    cp -r /n/snap/$home/* $home/*

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