Panopticon is an open source game prototype in lego about internet data control in collaboration between Maf’j Alvarez, Chris Pinchen, Open Rights Group and Lighthouse. Play it at Brighton Cryptofestival on Sunday 1st December in Brighton.

The internet is a wonderful place full of exciting content and incredible people. Anything is possible isn’t it? Buy anything, learn anything, play anything and share anything with anyone around the globe.  It’s the virtual air that we breathe and it surrounds us all the time. But who controls it? Who watches us?

Play panopticon and become the watcher! build your data empire, the tallest tower from which to view the entire internet and control how content and personal data moves. You may have good intentions, or bad ones. Behind the virtual air we breathe are the people who control us – the battles for data and people’s identities are being fought constantly. What will YOU choose to do?

Game for 3-6 players.  For ages 8 and up
Time to play is 1 – 2 hours.

Setting up

You will need the following items for the game:

  • 3 – 6 players
  • A circular panopticon board
  • Spinner – made up of 8 positions, 6 colours plus 2 special positions
  • Power up handhelds ( put list here)
  • 10 coloured 2×2 lego bricks per player in a bag
  • 6 Player mission cards (bad hacker, good hacker, trojan, anti-virus, undefined)

Per player: 

  • 1 lego mini figure
  • 2 identity crystals
  • 10 personal data blocks (1×2 bricks)
  • Base board (min 8 x 10 lego board)
  • 5 ability buttons (single square brick)
  • 1 super ability button (single brick of a different colour)

Preparing the board

Depending  on the number of players – draw or otherwise mark equal ‘ranges’ from  the middle to the edge of the board so that each player has an equal  slice of the board. Put all the power up tools in the middle of the board and the spinner on the side of the board.

Setting a mission

Each player takes one player mission card without telling anyone what the mission is. Players prepare their Panopticon base:

  • Take a base board, pick a mini figure, and 5 ability buttons + 1 super ability button.
  • Take 10 personal data blocks and arrange them into a defensive wall.
  • Take 2 identity crystals and put them behind your personal data wall.
  • Put your mini figure and put it in front of the wall.
  • Put your base board in the centre of the board so that your character faces outwards

Choosing your data blocks

In turn –  pick 10 coloured data pieces without looking from the bag of bits.
As you draw out the bits – put them on the board in the following circles within your range – your field of vision.

  • first ring: 1 bits
  • second ring: 2 bits
  • third ring: 3 bits
  • fourth ring: 4 bits

Start of play

The oldest player takes the first turn. 
Spin the spinner. You need to ‘get’ a block of that colour from the board. You can only look inside your own section of the first circle. If you have that colour block there – take it and put it on your base board and put your mini figure on top of it. This is the start of your panopticon tower.

Working together

If you don’t have the right colour and someone else does – you can make a deal. Ask the player with your coloured block in their first circle to give you theirs. The player you ask can give it to you for free, trade theirs for yours or can ask you for a personal data block for it.  Personal data blocks are added to the tower side by side or on top of each other.

If no player has that colour – move onto the next player to your left. Repeat as before.

After spinning, you can choose to play one of your ability cards, use a power up and make any trade you need to help you get closer to your mission.

How far is your visual range?

Your vision with 1 block on your tower now extends to the second circle within your range. If you tower gets 2 blocks tall your vision now extends to the third circle. With 3 blocks it extends to 4th (last) circle. Put your mini figure on top as you get taller. You must put your blocks in order that you get them.

Winning the game

The winner of the game is the person with the tallest tower once all coloured blocks are off the board.

Loosing control

You will leave the game – or give over control of everything you have if your tower collapses or you choose to knock it down. You must then select which player to give your tower, minifigure, personal data and id crystals to. If you choose you can stay involved in the game by commenting and making ‘helpful’ suggestions  to other players.

You can also loose control if the trojan uses their super ability card to control you for 3 rounds.

Aquiring a tower

If someone gives you control of their data and figure – you need to put the tower blocks and personal data on your own board either on top of your own tower or beside it. You can rearrange your board however you want at this point. From now on you have 2 turns every spin – one for each mini figure.

Player Missions

Bad Hacker

  • Mission: To steal the personal information of all players.
  • Has five cards which forces other player to give them their personal data (e.g. in an swap, if Bad Hacker requests personal data, player must give it to them).

Good Hacker

  • Mission: To build tallest tower without personal data.
  • Has five cards that can take back stolen personal data, and return it to their rightful owner (Sabotages Bad Hacker from winning).


  • Mission: Gain tallest tower, and stop Bad Hacker from winning.
  • Five cards which prevent player from stealing personal data of other players.
  • One card to stop player from steal the personal information (blue star) of other players.


  • Mission: Gain tallest tower.
  • Five ability cards which, when a player takes another players personal data, you get a share of it. (e.g. Player A takes Player B’s personal data, you also get a piece of Player B’s personal data, taking two from Player B instead of one)
  • One super ability card which controls the play of one player for 3 rounds (this means that whatever they take is yours, and you make their decisions.)

Other 1 & 2

  • Mission: To find a mission
  • Five ability cards which, when played allows player to make one additional spin.
  • One super ability card which allows player to ???

Power ups

Get  3 blocks of the same colour in a row and you can power up – choose a  power-up tool from the centre of the board and put it in the hands of  your mini figure. You can use it on your next turn or on any other turn  you choose.

Each power up can only be used 2 times! – then it is returned to centre of board. Power ups have the following powers:

  • Magic wand – Rearrange your structure for more stability and power up advantage
  • White wing – for diplomatic purposes. Take back personal data or stop someone taking it
  • Chainsaw – allows you to take 1 personal data from each player
  • Sword – takes 1 coloured block or personal data from a single player of choice
  • Owl – protects you from a player who wants to take your data.

Special power ups

This power up requires 5 blocks tower blocks of the same colour and can only be used once.

  • Spear – allows to directly ‘fish’ an id block from a single player of choice

Working notes on the game rules are available on this lopad:

This game is under creative commons attribution, share-alike licence

Thanks to Natalie Kane of Lighthouse for contributing the mission cards and player descriptions.

Panopticon – a game of data ownership and control

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