IRL Moving Forward

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:

https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/internet-response-league

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)

A message like this would greet you upon logging in. (Screenshot is from World of Warcraft and has been altered)

In game notification should have settings so as to not annoy players. (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)

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?

redcampaign

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!

https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/internet-response-league

See you there!

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7 thoughts on “IRL Moving Forward

  1. Zeth

    Honestly sounds pretty neat and will happily opt-in if it turns out as described. I do have one major warning, however. Along with WoW accounts needing user-created passwords, a second layer of security (the authenticator) is highly recommended to players. Everyone in WoW has been a victim of, or know a victim of, having their account hacked. Make sure you continuously devote serious effort to IRL account security, lest you be a backdoor making WoW accounts in any way accessible to hackers.

    Reply
    1. IRL Post author

      Great point on security; we will definitely take steps in securing IRL accounts. We do not believe that it will create a backdoor situation because we do not believe that we will need anything more than your WoW account name to link it to an IRL account. This however is something that we would obviously need to work very closely with Blizzard on, but we definitely think that it’ll bring very little vulnerability to your WoW account security.

      Reply
  2. Rob

    I really love this idea, being an avid gamer and play many MMO’s including WoW, I would be more than happy to help out.

    As an aspiring indie game developer, I am also working on my first MMO and would love to include the code into the final design for my game if and when launched. Let me know how to move forward on this by contacting me via my blog at interlacedtech.co.uk or leave a comment at http://igg.me/at/intech.

    Reply
    1. IRL Post author

      Hey Rob, thanks for the interest!
      We are definitely looking for game platforms to test out IRL on! Seeing how the process would work in game environments and with real players will help move the project along! We are currently working on a web-based application so as to have a point to start from, but when we are ready we will definitely get in contact with you! In the meantime if you have any questions, feel free to contact us using the contact info! Thanks!

      Reply
  3. Jussi

    Hi, found about this project via Finland’s biggest newspaper that had article about it. You are getting some attention internationally!

    This sounds great idea but I hope that you have some kind of tracking system of how good information player gives. Sadly some players can be pretty heartless comptetitors and might just spam one option to get that exclusive armour (especially if it has good stats) or to rise to top position of the chart. I suppose same picture/tweet could be presented to multiple players and that way system could automatically compare given answers.

    It would also be great if that banner could change size depending upon where player is. Having big hulking banner popping up might not generate wanted response if player gets killed in PvP or some other high intensity activity because he was distracted by IRL banner popping up. Big banner is good in more peaceful setting like while player is in town or in landscape defeating normal mobs.

    I hope my message wasn’t too harsh sounding since I like this idea. Sorry about any language mistakes. As I live in Finland so English isn’t my native language.

    Reply
    1. IRL Post author

      Hey Jussi, thanks for the interest! Your English is great!

      We definitely will track the quality of the tags. Currently, we plan on having each picture tagged by at least 10+ different users before the final tag is submitted to the map. That way we have a quality check on each picture and we would be able to even punish or even ban players who simply click on one button. The point in the end is to help out, not simply gain points.

      As for the pop-ups, this is definitely something that we would need to talk to the game developers about. A few options exist though, for example the notification would not pop-up if you are in combat, or you would first have to opt-in to receive notifications. The plan is to definitely have IRL interfere with gameplay as little as possible. Thanks!

      Reply

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