As the Internet Response League (IRL) begins to gain traction amongst the gaming community, we hope that our next steps will draw in as many game developers as possible. Our goal for this project is to create an open community of gamers and game developers aligned with the common cause of helping out in disaster response and creating a socially responsible gaming world.
First things first: the response amongst the gaming community thus far has been excellent and we hope to continue the growth of interested gamers. Our ultimate goal is to reach the imaginations of game developers, and while contacting them directly is one route, we believe that rallying gamers to the cause first will create better results later on. So please do share this initiative with your gamer friends far and wide!
Additionally we have created an official IRL Google Group, to create a public conversation for the project. All are welcome to come and join. We plan on having regular discussions on how we can move this project forward and in what ways it would be the most beneficial to those involved. Below is a link to the Google Group:
The first topic that we’ll be discussing is what an average disaster scenario would look like in game. We want game developers to have the freedom of being able to implement IRL into their game platforms however they please, but there are basics that will be required. In essence, these will be: A) Notifying players when there is a disaster occurring and asking them if they would like to help out, B) Creating an ‘area’ for gamers to be able to tag disaster photos, and possibly C) Asking players to sign-up/login to receive rewards.
To begin with, we’ll focus on tagging Instagram photos. Once we’ve worked out this process, it will be easy to expand the tagging to other social & multimedia content.
So now to take a look at how IRL could look in game, lets use World of Warcraft as an example again to walk you through these basic requirements (please excuse the shoddy MS paint skills). First, the moment that a disaster strikes, everyone currently playing the game and those logging on from that point on will receive notification of the event. Only users who have opted in to receive these “alerts” will see them. The message will give a brief description of what has happened, and will ask players to help out with the tagging.
A message like this would greet you upon logging in. (Screenshot is from World of Warcraft and has been altered)
In game notifications would have settings, with the ability to be disabled, so as to not annoy players. (Screenshot is from World of Warcraft and has been altered)
Accepting this invitation will take players to “disaster tagging area” (screen). People will be able to tag as many pictures as they like and exit back to the game as they please. For example, in the screenshot below, gamers are asked to tag the level of damage they see in an Instagram picture. The tagging data will be sent to IRL and be used to create a live crisis map of disaster damage for disaster responders.
A rough concept of what the tagging screen may look like. (Screenshot is from World of Warcraft and has been altered)
From a technical standpoint, we’d like to develop a standard IRL web plugin that gaming companies can easily insert into their games. This would allow us to push pictures to the plugin (like the above picture) and in return get the tagging data pushed back to us for rapid damage assessment analysis. Using this plugin, we could also keep track of each gamer’s tagging totals and credit the players accordingly. In short, we want plenty of room for stylization to allow for unique fits with individual games’ story, etc. We believe that the simplicity of such a system should be a huge selling point to developers, considering all of the positives that are associated with it.
The second topic that we will be discussing is the possibility of having a set of armor unique to the top contributors of IRL. The goal is to have a unique point system for people helping out in disaster response, which for now we will name the “IRL Score”. This score will simply count the amount of Instagram pictures that a player has tagged and will exist outside of individual games. This means that if a person does plenty of IRL work in one game, the standing with IRL will carry over to every other participating game. This score would then translate to rewards that players can redeem in-game.
Players who attain a high enough “IRL Score” would be able to gain access to unique suits of armor specific to the Internet Response League, including the logo and color scheme. For this to work, our supposed graphics designers would have to work very closely with game developers to ensure that this could be implemented with each game’s unique visual style and gameplay. Considering that not every game has armor in it, creativity will go a long way, using skins, banners, and maybe even custom units as rewards. Additionally there would be a few different tiers of these rewards depending on how devoted to the IRL you are, giving the most humanitarian gamers out there the ability to wear really cool armor, despite the game that they are playing. Remember how powerful Bono’s Red Campaign was. Could we design a distinct Red and White Armor with the same kind of brand power?
There are definitely some nuances that would need to be addressed. Firstly, this armor should only be cosmetic, so that it does not affect the balance of the respective games. Second, we will want only the top IRL supporters to be able to wear the highest tiers of the armor, meaning that the vast majority of IRL users will have to settle for an IRL emblem, player title, or something of a lesser nature than the armor. The idea here is to cement the Internet Response League and its most dedicated members amongst more serious gaming communities. As stated earlier, the “IRL score” will simply count the amount of pictures that a player has tagged, and only those who have a score within a certain top percentage will be able to wear the armor. Yes, this also means that if you quit participating while at the top, you will lose the opportunity to wear the armor. Those who don the armor would hopefully become a sort of prestigious group of gamers who not only want to help in the real world, but also want to take it to the next level.
Gamers tend to be competitive, so we expect that this proposed setup will not deter anyone; the end result will still remain helping out disaster victims. Plus individual games / game platforms will ideally offer their own rewards for the work to keep players interested. Finally, your “IRL Score” could also be used to show prospective schools/employers how many volunteer hours you have accumulated in total, so that value created will be immense!
If you are a game developer / graphics designer, or are simply interested in this idea, please stay tuned to our Google Group for this idea. Amongst these two topics mentioned here, there will be many more to come as we collectively attempt to push the Internet Response League into the hearts of gamers around the world. Additionally, we will be exploring the possibility of using kickstarter in the future to fund a game developers & graphics designer(s) to create the IRL image tagging plugin and armor for us, so definitely stay tuned!
See you there!