Tag Archives: Humanitarian Response

IRL in Team Fortress 2

Team Fortress 2

Team Fortress 2 (TF2) will be the game to kick off this series. While it may not be the most played title currently released by Valve Corporation, it certainly can be considered their most iconic, especially when considering its unique in-game economy. This is an excellent place to start and provide some general examples.

TF2 is a first-person shooter (FPS) action game from 2007 with cartoon graphics and an economy that was valued at over $50 million. [1] It is important to note here that this is not money that Valve has earned from the game, but rather the total value of time and money that players have invested into the game to increase the quality of their play. Hats are considered the most valuable asset in the game, offering nothing more than visual appeal (and hilarity). Some of the rarer hats, which are randomly found by players, can reach ludicrous price tags. One example is the “Burning Flames Team Captain” which was priced at over $5,000 in March of last year. [2] [3]

Burning Flames Team Captain

The implications that these facts have for IRL are incredible. It means that there is a large community of gamers playing TF2 that are willing to invest their time and/or money to obtain these virtual objects. The game itself is free to play nowadays, and since time is a factor that can be used to obtain every single item, there is no actual monetary value to Valve. The company does offer most of the common items for sale to players, which accounts for their profit, but the most valuable items, such as the Burning Flames Team Captain, are only obtained randomly by lucky players. These players can then trade these rare items to other players for items with real world value, and Valve sees none of this value. This means that Valve is willing to create and facilitate content for this economy which they do not directly benefit from.

So if players can trade these valuable items among themselves for real-world value (completely at Valve’s expense), then why not incorporate a system where these players can earn items through volunteer work (where Valve could see some actual value)? Simply enabling this type of interaction would qualify as a (very efficient) form of social responsibility. While Valve may not gain anything anything monetarily, the long term benefits in terms of publicity should be more than worth the effort.

This example can become even more detailed (and hypothetical). For example, there could be a few different hats designated for different levels of IRL commitment. There would be the standard hat, which most people would own with a minimal amount of time spent volunteering. However for those that choose to go above and beyond, spending a significant amount of time participating would reward you a special edition hat. For each deployment, this special edition hat would change, meaning that these hats would become very rare and valuable (assuming they would be trade-able). This could potentially drive IRL participation sky high, as the rewards become increasingly sought after collectibles. If this happened, Valve would see a massive surge of press and good will on their behalf.

These are all unfortunately just ideas for now. Turning a free-to-play game into a humanitarian volunteer machine would be an unprecedented feat, and a worthy challenge for any company. There are obviously many different ways that this could happen, and it is my hopes that this type of discussion will spur Valve Corporation and other video game companies to try out this innovative method of social responsibility.

As always, please contact us if you have questions/comments, would like to work with us, or would simply like to say hi! The next post will focus on another video game. See you then!

IRL TF2

 

 

References:

1. Good, Owen (17 December 2011). “Analyst Pegs Team Fortress 2 Hat Economy at 50 Million”. Kotaku. Retrieved 8/20/2014.

2. “Burning Flames Team Captain Item Information”. backpack.tf. Retrieved 8/20/2014.

3. “TF2 Earbuds Price”. TF2 Finance. Retrieved 8/20/2014.

IRL Ideas/Recap

Hello everyone, the test phase is still in the works! The partners with whom we will be working with are still in the process of readying the images for use. In the meantime, we figured we would bring you some content in the form of ideas.

The Internet Response League has the potential of assuming many unique forms depending on the specific video game companies that choose to participate. What may work for a MMORPG may not work for an FPS. With that in mind, over the next few weeks we will bringing you posts that detail the possible ways in which individual game franchises could incorporate IRL.

For this week, a quick recap of the basics of the Internet Response League:

  • Humanitarian organizations need large amounts of volunteers to help tag media immediately during/after a disaster.
  • Video game companies have large and persistent player-bases that could be enticed to help out with in-game rewards.
  • The motivation for the video game companies to participate and reward their players includes publicity, social responsibility, and potential bragging rights.

These are the basic pillars that the Internet Response League rests upon. There are many ways that these ideas could manifest themselves in real-life, and we invite you to help think of any that we may miss!

Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda Update

After a rigorous five days of crisis mapping, volunteers from all around the world made a total of 105,000 individual tags on the MicroMappers applications. These volunteers, from locales such as Belgium, Boston, Kenya, Australia, South Africa, Brooklyn, Canada, France, Spain, Qatar, Germany, the Philippines, Holland, and Denmark among others, sacrificed a small bit of their time because they wanted to do more than just listen to the news. They came together to help; resulting in around 600 relevant tweets and 180 usable images, that were deemed fit to populate the live Crisis Maps. Still as I write, these maps are being used to help with everything from rescue work to damage assessment in the Philippines, and can be seen at this link.

With all of this amazing news, we must realize that this was one of the first instances of volunteer crisis mapping ever conducted. Already, we can see that there is overwhelming proof that people are willing to spend some time to help out a disaster stricken area, “World Wide (Good) Will” as Patrick Meier puts it. These types of responses can only get better: they can be quicker, more accurate, and even more specialized. One day, volunteers will be able to complete complex tasks at the scene of a disaster right from the comfort of their home. For all of this, we recruit the expertise of the video-game community. Together, we know that we would be able to dominate any disaster event, and create a more prepared and victorious world community.

The Internet Response League is still looking for Game Developers to partner with to test our ideas. Please help spread to word to friends, family, and members or your favorite gaming community. Additionally we are looking to build a robust humanitarian-gamer culture. Please read this post to learn more.

IRL in Search of Artists

“A call goes out around the world. A call to those doing epic quests, to those farming gold, to those ranking up, to those refreshing a website, and to those endlessly shooting each other. A symbol appears in the sky. It is a red cross, but with white lines on each arm, like a d-pad. This message is a rallying call to suspend the fun, for in real life disaster has occurred, and it is up to the denizens of the internet to step forth and help relieve the suffering. Don your armor and let the epic theme into your ears. We need your help to find the weak and give them direction, to locate hazards and mark them brightly, and to steer brave rescuers towards the innocent victims. We need you to join the Internet Response League.”

We believe that one of the cornerstones of creating a successful Internet Response League is to create compelling fantasy dialogue with our members. Video games live in the realm of gripping storylines, fantastic graphics, and epic rewards. While taking an abstract concept and creating fiction is definitely a challenge, we believe that there is definitely a way that the Internet Response League can implement these ideals.

This post is a call to all the talented individuals out there willing to help the cause. We are in need of stories, concept art, and music. The Internet Response League is a call to all able individuals to take arms and help a cause, a crusade if you let it be. Like organizations of the long past, the Internet Response League can come to represent an era. In order to so successfully, its story needs to be rich and fulfilling. A common symbol can help create this result.

IRLicon

The IRL cross, the red cross with the white stripes on each arm, should be the cornerstone of the movement. Armor, mounts, banners, and logos implementing the IRL cross can stir the hearts players in every game across the internet. Then to match, a story of epic heroes forging a union defending the weak and a theme song to match national anthems. Together the end result can become a force that could change the world. All that is needed now is grandiose imagination.

We hope the Internet Response League to become the intrigue of our day. We will be reaching out to art communities all over in hopes to garner support. If you know of anyone who fits in this category, please let them know. We want artists to draw their characters emblazoned with the IRL cross, musicians to translate the cause into song, and story-writers to chronicle the awaiting tales. We want this effort will be shared by the world, as is the entirety of the IRL. Every individual contribution will create a new vision of the idea, and will be rewarded greatly. As in history, with grand ideas comes great wealth. What kind, only time will tell.