The Characters Behind the Characters: Riley

If you have opened a Hack Computer, chances are you’ve met Riley, your friendly, ambitious, and sometimes mischievous guide through the Hack conservatory. What you may not have noticed are all of the intricate details that went into creating the game's fastest-learning, goji-berry loving, lock-picking enthusiast.


Riley was designed to be your co-conspirator and companion as you explore, tinker, make messes and learn how to clean them up with the Hack computer. Like all of the characters in Hack, the design team drew inspiration for Riley from a diverse throughout history. Here are just a few examples:


Malala Yousafzai

A female education activist who stood up to the Taliban and survived an assassination attempt, Malala Yousafzai is the youngest person ever to receive a Nobel Prize. During the Taliban occupation of the Swat region of Pakistan, all-girl schools were ordered to close, many were even destroyed. Yousafzai, who had been blogging under a pseudonym for the BBC, detailed her experiences as her family moved from city to city in a wartorn country. Throughout the whole ordeal, she continued to blog, writing appeals for the importance of girls education.


After a documentary about her blog was released by the New York Times, the Taliban made an attempt on her life, shooting her in the head and neck. When she recovered from her injuries she was only more inspired to continue her activism.  


Hack’s designers were inspired by Yousafzai’s unrelenting passion for education equality. In Riley, hey wanted to reflect Yousafzai’s ability to always find clever ways to persist against odds that would stop most people in their tracks.


Amelia Earhart

An American aviator, Amelia Earhart was the first woman to fly a plane across the Atlantic Ocean solo. A true explorer, Earhart was the first person to ever fly alone from Honolulu to Oakland, Los Angeles to Mexico City, and Mexico City to Newark.


The Hack design team drew from Earhart's unyielding drive for adventure and exploration when creating Riley. As you navigate through new and unfamiliar spaces, Riley will urge you onward to prowl for more secrets to unearth.


Björk

Björk Guðmundsdóttir (more commonly known as simply Björk) is an Icelandic recording artist, composer and fashion icon. Björk’s unique sound has landed her on Rolling Stone’s top 100 greatest singers of all time. Her incredible wardrobe and design skills earned her a full retrospective exhibition at the New York Museum of Modern Art. She was even listed on Time’s 100 most influential people of 2015.


You can see traces of Björk’s style in Riley (particularly her late-90’s era). Perhaps Bjork’s influence on Riley can best be summed up by the artist herself, “I love being a very personal singer-songwriter, but I also like being a scientist or explorer.”


Richard P. Feynman:

An American theoretical physicist, Nobel Prize winner, and professor, Richard P. Feynman is known as one of the most outspoken, funny, and brilliant personalities that STEM has ever known. Not only is he known for his groundbreaking work in electrodynamics and superfluidity, but also his unique way of making complex ideas human and relatable. Feynman was also known for breaking the mold of the stiff scientist he loved humor, pulling harmless pranks and he was even known to play the bongos on occasion.


Riley’s passion for knowledge, sense of humor and desire to share what she knows with us as we navigate through the game are all traces of Feynman.


Extra credit: For more on this, check out Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman, a collection of incredible stories about Feynman’s life told by the man himself that include picking locks on the most uncrackable safes guarding the world’s most deeply held nuclear secrets...for fun.