Gamers to the Rescue

August 8, 2013 | 15:04
Gamers to the Rescue
Gamers to the Rescue
The Internet Response League wants to recruit gamers to assist in disaster response by creating plug-ins for existing games like World of Warcraft. Gamers can help save lives playing their favorite game.

IRL is an initiative of Patrick Meier, currently director of innovation at the Qatar Computing Research Institute and Peter Mosur, a graduate student at Metropolitan College of New York studying emergency management.

Meier and Mosur want to create a browser plugin that enables gamers to signup for IRL without leaving their virtual world. Using crisis mapping and WoW as an example they illustrate their idea.

During Hurricane Sandy half a million pictures of the disaster area were uploaded to the Internet and distributed over social networks. These images can be used to create a crisis map and help first responders decide how to allocate their resources. But to be useful the images need to be tagged to indicate the level of the damage they show.

Sifting through so many pictures takes thousands of man hours but time isn't exactly lacking in the gaming world. Half a billion gamers worldwide put in at least an hour a day. That's 3.5 billion hours a week to tap into.

In case of an IRL emergency gamers receive an in-game alert. They can opt-in to help out, in this example by tagging images. Since this gaming, there must be rewards. Players with a high IRL score could receive a special armour which they can wear anywhere in the game.

Meier and Mosur are currently trying to win over game developers for their idea and have them support the plugin. And the best way to do that, they say, is by rallying a huge number of gamers to the cause.

Game designer Jane McGonigal held a TED talk that sums up the idea nicely. Adding up the total amount of time people have spent playing World of Warcraft she said: 'All the WoW gamers have spent 5.93 million years solving the virtual problems of Azeroth, [...] what if these resources were dedicated to solving real world problems?

Loading comments...
related items