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New York State Testing Emergency Alerts Over Gaming Networks

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the ideas-can-be-both-good-and-creepy dept.

Communications 212

An anonymous reader writes "Gamers are used to confronting invading terrorists, nuclear attacks, and natural calamities—in virtual form. But those living in New York State could soon receive warnings about real emergencies through their favorite video console. State authorities are testing a plan that would see the Emergency Management Office issue alerts over online gaming networks in addition to regular channels."

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212 comments

OMG (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30162994)

Zerg rush!

Good Idea! (0)

rhathar (1247530) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163000)

This is actually a great idea. It was done on radio when everyone had a radio, then TV to reach the masses. Now? There are a lot of people who will be reached only by this medium and aren't tuning into prime time cable to find out about the flash flood in the area or tornado on its way.

Re:Good Idea! (1)

csartanis (863147) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163380)

Who filters the users by region? Does MS and Sony give NY state the list of users that live there or does NY state tell MS to broadcast the message to this region?

(and yes, I RTFA)

Re:Good Idea! (1)

rhathar (1247530) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163442)

Hopefully they add some kind of app that you can configure (thus giving people opt-in/opt-out) with your zipcode or the like.

Re:Good Idea! (2, Insightful)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163822)

These kinds of emergency notifications should be as hard to opt out of as possible. For a real emergency as many people need to know about it as possible. Unless of course "this is a test of the emergency broadcasting system...".

Re:Good Idea! (3, Informative)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163590)

Who filters the users by region? Does MS and Sony give NY state the list of users that live there or does NY state tell MS to broadcast the message to this region?

New York State already has an alert system [nyalert.gov] . It's operated on an opt-in basis. You provide the information for the geographical area that you wish to receive notifications for. It currently sends out notifications for severe weather, amber alerts, escaped convicts, etc. It can also do more mundane (weather/event reporting) reports too.

I would imagine that the purposed system would just link into that. You'd simply be able to select "Counterstrike" and "Call of Duty" in addition to "SMS", "Voice" and "e-mail" as a notification option. The onus would still be on you to opt-in.

Re:Good Idea! (1)

ozbird (127571) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163856)

It currently sends out notifications for severe weather, amber alerts, escaped convicts, etc.

I'm not sure which is scarier: people wanting to be kept informed of escaped convicts, or the fact it apparently happens so often there's a notification system for it.

Re:Good Idea! (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#30164066)

It doesn't happen too often. Why would you regard it as scary that people would want to know about it when it does though?

A few years ago we had someone [wikipedia.org] running around these parts who had escaped prison and shot three state troopers during the course of his crime spree (one of whom died). Personally I'm rather glad that the authorities decided to notify everybody of the fact that he was running around. It enabled those of us who live in the area to take steps to protect ourselves against this murdering nutjob.

Re:Good Idea! (4, Funny)

DangerFace (1315417) | more than 4 years ago | (#30164174)

Not that I want to take part in a game of oneupmanship, but round these parts we recently had a radioactive paedophile [dailymail.co.uk] on the loose...

Re:Good Idea! (1)

Grimbleton (1034446) | more than 4 years ago | (#30164250)

FREE BUCKY

Re:Good Idea! (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163646)

You do. When you sign up for Live you can set your region. Then I guess its up to you if you want to recieve emergency messages or not, by setting your region or not. All in all, its your loss if you don't, but a great system if you do.

Re:Good Idea! (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163400)

So, what happens when you're playing Eternal Darkness II and your sanity meter runs out.

They will find the BFG9000 useless, however (4, Funny)

wsanders (114993) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163538)

.. would be good for tornado warning:

"There is a tornado in your area. It is OUTSIDE. You do remember where OUTSIDE is, right?"

Re:They will find the BFG9000 useless, however (5, Funny)

Facegarden (967477) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163846)

.. would be good for tornado warning:

"There is a tornado in your area. It is OUTSIDE. You do remember where OUTSIDE is, right?"

Follwed by: "Just stay there in your mom's basement, and everything will be fine."
-Taylor

Re:Good Idea! (1)

KharmaWidow (1504025) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163754)

adding it to phone and tv made those items "necessary" for life. Is the gov going to ensure everyone has gaming console as well?

Re:Good Idea! (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163988)

Not really. I live in the midwest and we get severe weather every year. -Everyone- turns on the TV, radio, etc whenever there is a chance of a tornado. As for nuclear, terrorist and other attacks either they are going to be isolated if you aren't directly affected (such as 9/11 where if you weren't in the immediate area you weren't affected hardly, the London bus bombings, etc) or -huge- such as a major nuclear attack (which is in all honesty unlikely in 2009....) which would disrupt enough things to make people notice. And as for biological attacks, who isn't going to be filled with calls, etc. warning them about it (look at Swine Flu) and biological attacks don't disrupt infrastructure.

Mix this with government propaganda (look at the terror alert level, which has perpetually been on "elevated" and only risen) and you have a situation where nothing good can come of it.

What about us.... (1)

Azmodan (572615) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163102)

ah shoot my Xbox got banned for being moded... I must be doomed!

Re:What about us.... (1)

John Whitley (6067) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163258)

Don't worry. When disaster strikes, at least you'll be in contention for a Darwin Award. ;-)

Re:What about us.... (1)

Dewin (989206) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163872)

This is Slashdot. Anyone posting here already isn't adding anything to the gene pool.

Fucking moronic (-1, Flamebait)

syousef (465911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163106)

It's a fucking gaming network. People are focused on playing the game, not on your emergency announcement. Unless you have a way to literally stop the game (pissing anyone off that isn't affected by the alert) you're wasting your time sending the message.

I'm sick and tired of these idiotic experiments by business people who don't understand the technology and therefore can't work out how asinine what they're suggesting really is. Then between 6 months and 2 years later, when they do have a few people hooked and relying on their ill advised service, they decide the experiment failed and pulled the plug. Fucking tossers.

Re:Fucking moronic (2, Insightful)

rhathar (1247530) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163198)

This is the same thing as them running the emergency broadcast during your favorite show. Annoying, yes, but apparently people think it helps more than it hurts.

Re:Fucking moronic (1)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163470)

Yeah, I mean people in Tornado Ally must really hate it when the stupid alert comes on telling you about a tornado, then the tornado ripping through your house. How else are people going to find out about Palins book or that stupid Twilight movie?

Re:Fucking moronic (1)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163706)

But this is just a little graphic or banner on the bottom of the screen at worst, usually. And TV stations have to broadcast this message to all viewers in several counties in every direction. The in-game announcement would have to be micro-targeted.

Re:Fucking moronic (2, Interesting)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 4 years ago | (#30164142)

I posted this elsewhere but it deserves some more exposure.

In 2005 the State of Connecticut issued an alert on their emergency system, which interrupted both midday television and radio broadcasts. The alert was a Statewide evacuation order.

Pretty serious shit must be afoot, right?

State police later reported that NOBODY called them to find out what was going on, and obviously people didn't evacuate Connecticut.

The emergency system is stupid. It doesnt matter what it says on there.. if I look outside and don't directly witness something akin to Armageddon, I'm not leaving the house. If something akin to Armageddon IS heppening, then quite frankly I don'y need an alert system to tell me about it.

Re:Fucking moronic (1)

skine (1524819) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163332)

I'm sure it wouldn't be difficult to include non-intrusive alerts. Something like the weather alerts on ForecastFox, where it tells you there is an alert in your area but you choose whether to actually find out what it is.

Also, I'm sure it would be an opt-in service, so you can feel free to remove it at any time (or avoid it completely) if you don't like it.

Re:Fucking moronic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30163382)

Just remember this when something happens to you because you'd rather be playing a game than escaping from a flood/tornado/etc...

I think it's a great idea, but they should have an on/off setting OR just broadcast the image as a message scrolling across the bottom of the screen.

Re:Fucking moronic (4, Insightful)

Facegarden (967477) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163384)

It's a fucking gaming network. People are focused on playing the game, not on your emergency announcement. Unless you have a way to literally stop the game (pissing anyone off that isn't affected by the alert) you're wasting your time sending the message.

I'm sick and tired of these idiotic experiments by business people who don't understand the technology and therefore can't work out how asinine what they're suggesting really is. Then between 6 months and 2 years later, when they do have a few people hooked and relying on their ill advised service, they decide the experiment failed and pulled the plug. Fucking tossers.

Uhh... really? It's an *EMERGENCY*. I think when someone tries to go attack New York again, people will be willing to miss a few headshots to get the best possible warning they can. Its not like these announcements are sent out often.
At least, in my head, these are rare occurrences on the scale of Katrina and 9/11 that people would be notified. I think once a year if someone interrupts my game to say "Hey, we're being attacked by god/mormons/terrorists/etc, try not to die", I'll forgive them for ruining my game.

Or are you so insanely entrenched in your game that you'd rather die than be notified of an emergency?
-Taylor

Re:Fucking moronic (1, Flamebait)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163488)

At least, in my head, these are rare occurrences on the scale of Katrina and 9/11 that people would be notified.

If you are so disconnected from the world that you wouldn't have known about Katrina without an emergency alert system then you are probably already a lost cause. A hurricane is something that comes with days of advance warning. One would think that the sight of the neighbors boarding up their windows would suggest to most people that something was afoot......

Re:Fucking moronic (1)

rhathar (1247530) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163620)

Neighbors? Are those the bipedal creatures that live in this 'outside' place I keep hearing of?

Re:Fucking moronic (1)

TehCable (1351775) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163692)

Was the Emergency Broadcast System even used on 9/11? It seems like if there was ever a time to trigger that system, it would have been on that day. All I've ever seen it used for was interrupting my Saturday morning cartoons repeatedly through my whole childhood. And we put up with it because we think one day it could do some good. The whole system is BS. In a real emergency, we all just turn on the news so that we can get the latest update on what they don't know about the situation.

Re:Fucking moronic (1)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163740)

This is a test. For the next thirty seconds, this game will conduct a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. This is only a test. Once weekly. Not annoying yet?

Re:Fucking moronic (1)

Facegarden (967477) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163902)

This is a test. For the next thirty seconds, this game will conduct a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. This is only a test. Once weekly. Not annoying yet?

I hope you're joking, and if you're not, you need to get a grip and calm down. MSFT puts BILLIONS into xbox live, they're not going to just regularly ruin people's games for no reason. This isn't PBS here.
-Taylor

Re:Fucking moronic (1)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 4 years ago | (#30164012)

Yeah I'm joking. But for it to be a true emergency system, it has to have regular tests. These tests will interrupt gameplay. We can't just wait for an emergency to happen and just assume it will work. Well, we can - but I doubt that's how it would happen.

Re:Fucking moronic (1)

Facegarden (967477) | more than 4 years ago | (#30164232)

Yeah I'm joking. But for it to be a true emergency system, it has to have regular tests. These tests will interrupt gameplay. We can't just wait for an emergency to happen and just assume it will work. Well, we can - but I doubt that's how it would happen.

Well, maybe, but since xbox live is a two way communication system on a computing platform, rather than some analog broadcast system, I can't really imagine that they'd even need to show you an alert to test it. I mean, did your last game results show up onscreen? Then we know we can show you an alert if we need to. In order to function at all, live needs to be able to send you data and have it display something onscreen, it seems like testing would be unnecessary.

Especially if they treat the warnings as a convenience, not a requirement. Since they're not the government, they have less responsibility to make sure it works, so they don't have to constantly test it. Its more of a "hopefully we can help notify you" thing, where a failure of the system isn't a big deal.
-Taylor

Re:Fucking moronic (1)

kalirion (728907) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163758)

I agree with you on actual emergencies.

However, are you willing to lose a few headshots to this [youtube.com] ? I could forgive them if it was this [youtube.com] though.

Re:Fucking moronic (1)

todrules (882424) | more than 4 years ago | (#30164204)

If it was to be used only in an emergency, that would be great. But, of course, as another poster mentioned there's the the weekly tests. Then, I'm sure the Weather service and local Police Depts would want to broadcast every rain, snow, hail, and sleet storm as well as Amber alerts, too. So, yes, it would become pretty annoying. I live in Georgia, and they interrupt primetime TV at least once a week for hours at a time just to alert me that it's raining.

Re:Fucking moronic (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163492)

It's a fucking gaming network. People are focused on playing the game, not on your emergency announcement. Unless you have a way to literally stop the game (pissing anyone off that isn't affected by the alert) you're wasting your time sending the message.

Come on, if you've spent 5 hours playing a game, and then suddenly a message box pops up at the bottom of the screen that you never even knew could exist, you're going to notice that.

Too small a target? (2, Insightful)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163110)

Why not opt-in SMS alerts. Yeah, cell towers get flooded or knocked out in emergencies, but so does the Internet these games run on. Or better yet, electronic notification through an API that can be integrated with any home product - security systems, home pbx, standalone weather radios...

Re:Too small a target? (1)

el3mentary (1349033) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163640)

I'm fairly sure you can already et SMS alerts, certainly in the UK you can.

Re:Too small a target? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30163716)

Opt-In SMS alerts for NY are available here:

http://www.nyalert.gov

Re:Too small a target? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30163756)

I agree. It seems like it would be much more worthwhile to have an emergency alert system that could broadcast to cell phones within a certain geographical area. This would reach a much wider audience and might not be all that hard to do.

There goes that escape hatch... (-1, Troll)

Eggplant62 (120514) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163112)

So what invasion of privacy is next?

Re:There goes that escape hatch... (2, Insightful)

rhathar (1247530) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163180)

Invasion of privacy? How are they invading your privacy here? This is no more an invasion then sending you email without permission is an invasion of your privacy.

Re:There goes that escape hatch... (1, Interesting)

Eggplant62 (120514) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163216)

I don't know about anyone else, but sometimes I go into my game and decide to say, "Go away, government, go away news, go away famiily, go away anyone and anything that isn't in the game." I escape. I shut down for a couple hours and just veg. And I don't want to be interrupted. If that means I miss some emergency alert that may save my life, well, that's life, ain't it?

Re:There goes that escape hatch... (1)

rhathar (1247530) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163278)

That's a very valid point. They're essentially just trying to extend what they already do on television to the next popular medium. I suppose we could hope for an option to turn it off, but I doubt that'd happen.

Re:There goes that escape hatch... (2, Insightful)

nomadic (141991) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163614)

but sometimes I go into my game and decide to say, "Go away, government, go away news, go away famiily, go away anyone and anything that isn't in the game."

"Go away, hurricane, go away brush fires, go away rioting, go away tidal wave!"

Re:There goes that escape hatch... (2, Insightful)

shawb (16347) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163722)

If that means I miss some emergency alert that may save my life, well, that's life, ain't it?

Technically speaking, that would be death, not life. At the very least, an emergency broadcast would tell you to save your game because there is a tornado/hurricane/earthquake/zombie infestation coming along that could disrupt power. But seriously, putting yourself in danger for a video game is extremely stupid and selfish... you are not only putting yourself in danger but the using up the resources of and endangering rescuers that have to come save your hide because you were too busy powerlevelling your orcish mage to get out of trouble before disaster struck.

Re:There goes that escape hatch... (0, Troll)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 4 years ago | (#30164112)

But Libertarians demand the right to play their video games uninterrupted by warnings of impending doom!

It's like the right to not wear your seatbelt. Very important.

Re:There goes that escape hatch... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30163418)

Didn't you know that any information sent to you allows the sender to see whatever you're doing when you read it? I can see what you're doing right now! You're reading this message. Told you it was true.

Re:There goes that escape hatch... (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163762)

This is no more an invasion then sending you email without permission is an invasion of your privacy.

      And don't people just LOVE spam?

      Wait - there are LAWS against spam. Yeah they're not enforced, because it's hard to enforce US law in Nigeria. But why are there laws against it, do you think?

      Now look at it this way. You are going to check your email. You actively send a request to an email server to download your email. You receive email.

      Oh, but look - you're playing a game. At no time did you request information from the state of New York that little Amanda disappeared, or that there's a storm front moving in, or that a plane just landed in the Hudson. When you signed up to frag others, or gold farm, or whatever, you didn't sign up to Big Brother's News Channel. Imagine if you got a "This Just In - Breaking News" while at the cinema? How about a policeman showing up at your door and reminding you to use a condom every time you're about to have sex? Where do you stop?

Re:There goes that escape hatch... (1)

hatemonger (1671340) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163244)

I fail to see how allowing emergency services to send you in-game messages is an "invasion of privacy". Those channels are mostly filled with 12 year-olds shouting their racist and homophobic opinions anyways. The real question is how the important alert will cut through the chatter, not whether it should be allowed to.

Re:There goes that escape hatch... (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163564)

I fail to see how allowing emergency services to send you in-game messages is an "invasion of privacy".

      Well it just so happens that I have a private arrangement between myself, and the game provider. All of a sudden the government can come in, without my permission, and a) locate me, because presumably "emergency alerts" issued by the state of New York will ONLY be sent to people located in New York State, and b) interrupt my entertainment.

      You know, I don't think it took too long for everyone to realize what was happening on 9-11. I was in Costa Rica in an intensive care unit, and I still "got the message" through family members and was tuned to CNN long before the second plane hit. I don't really see what kind of "emergency" can warrant notifying every single person in a STATE. If you're close enough to the disaster (tornado, flooding, hurricane, planes flying into buildings), you know what's happening. Other disasters either simply don't give enough time to react (earthquakes, volcanic eruptions (in NY?)) or frankly in the case of a nuclear strike, why the hell would I want to know?

      So how does say warning a person in Albany about a gas main rupture in Queens work? Or do they plan on tracking you on a smaller scale? By zip code? By street address? This is where privacy comes into play. If the government needs to know where I live, they can call the people who have my address information: the people who gave my my license, passport, and other government documents. They have absolutely no right to oblige a "game provider" to release ANY information about me, my activities, where I live, when I log on, etc. Convicted criminals have to register. I am not a criminal.

      That said, I'm glad I don't live in the US. Enjoy your "free" country, citizen. The fact that you can't even see that there is a problem here means you deserve to be monitored, tracked, numbered and processed. That way when they feel like rounding you up, they'll have enough to find some little law or other you've broken.

Re:There goes that escape hatch... (1)

rhathar (1247530) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163652)

NY State uses an opt-in system. So, yes, they will 'track' you by a much smaller area, but you're going to have to ask for it.

Re:There goes that escape hatch... (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163674)

Those channels are mostly filled with 12 year-olds shouting their racist and homophobic opinions anyways.

It's not nice to talk about the GNAA like that behind their backs ;)

spot suicidal behavior? (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163170)

From TFA:

Under Empire 2.0, the Department of Mental Health is monitoring some Facebook posts in an effort to spot suicidal behavior

Thanks guys! You are making a real contribution.

Re:spot suicidal behavior? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30163210)

I suggest the death penalty for those who attempt and fail their suicide!

Re:spot suicidal behavior? (2, Interesting)

Amouth (879122) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163650)

You joke - in NC it is attempted 1st degree murder to attempt suicide.

I remember a guy who attempted suicide - he ate the end of a .22 - failed at killing him self BUT managed to blow most of his brain stem off and became a quadriplegic. He was later convicted of attempted 1st degree murder and sent to jail (no i don't remember for how long).

I can see it now.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30163196)

Can't wait to be interrupted by "this is a test" when I'm trying to frag some n00bs.

People can't have it both ways... (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163206)

It seems every time a natural disaster (or any other disaster) hits, there are always people that complain that they didn't know about it or something like that...

And any time we try to get ways to let everyone know about it, people complain about that, too.

Seems you can't have it both ways... seems like we have to choose to have either opt-in or no-opt. If no-opt, which seems to be the way it is now ("beeeeeep, this is only a test..."), then they have to continue to do things like this. Seems we should argue about the system itself, not the implementation, here...

Re:People can't have it both ways... (1)

Explodicle (818405) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163784)

Seems you can't have it both ways... seems like we have to choose to have either opt-in or no-opt.

What about opt-out?

Re:People can't have it both ways... (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163898)

Yes, that would work too. You'd likely have to "sign your life away" since you're saying you *don't* want to be notified in the event of a disaster, which seems kinda stupid, but I suppose you should be free to say "don't bother me, I'll handle the tornado myself and not sue you for not telling me" if you want.

Children are likely to get confused (5, Interesting)

iamacat (583406) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163214)

Games already contain situations that resemble real emergencies and commonly contain simulated alerts where some government official type tells you what is happening. There a possibility of the alert being ignored because people think it's just part of the game. But far worse is children getting scared or taking unsafe actions to evade perceived hazards because they really believe there is a nuclear attack in progress or that mom and dad turned into blood-sucking zombies. After all they have been taught that they can be alerted to an emergency through a game.

Re:Children are likely to get confused (1)

ben kohler (1109391) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163514)

Isn't this already happening with movies & tv?

Re:Children are likely to get confused (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30163732)

what are you implying about the 2012 documentary?

Re:Children are likely to get confused (1)

hatemonger (1671340) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163594)

Games already contain situations that resemble real emergencies and commonly contain simulated alerts where some government official type tells you what is happening. There a possibility of the alert being ignored because people think it's just part of the game. But far worse is children getting scared or taking unsafe actions to evade perceived hazards because they really believe there is a nuclear attack in progress or that mom and dad turned into blood-sucking zombies. After all they have been taught that they can be alerted to an emergency through a game.

Spot on. Queue the War of the Worlds radio broadcast. We can only hope that these alerts would also come with SMS and broadcast TV alerts as well.

Re:Children are likely to get confused (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30164056)

Cue. Queue is a line, or adding something to a queue. Cue means to "notify to start". Homophones are fun!

Re:Children are likely to get confused (2, Insightful)

gilbert644 (1515625) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163606)

Most console gamers aren't children and this stuff is for their benefit.

Re:Children are likely to get confused (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30163894)

Jesus Christ, please tell me you are joking. What is it with these Slashdot readers that nitpick the most minor things? "What happens if the alert background is white and pops up just as a plane is about to crash into my house? If it weren't for the white screen I would have seen the reflection of the plane in the TV and had a split second to dive out of the way. I could have found the cure to cancer while rescuing a boatload of drowning orphans, but no; I'm fucking dead thanks to some asshole bureaucrat in Washington."

Re:Children are likely to get confused (4, Insightful)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 4 years ago | (#30164008)

Yeah, because it's unthinkable that an adult might play video games, right? Sheesh. I never thought I'd see the "video games are only for kids" sentiment here on Slashdot of all places.

Anyway, let's say an alert pops up that the kid "becomes confused" and ignores it. So what? If the system wasn't in place, they would never have seen the alert, and so the kid's no worse off. On the other hand, if he's the rare kid who doesn't "become confused" by it, it might just save his life.

So I don't really know what you're griping about here.

Dumb idea (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163248)

Chalk me up for "what could possibly go wrong". Though the answers are pretty simple

1) Real emergency alert being dismissed as phony.

2) In-game alert being misinterpreted as real.

Option 1 isn't a huge problem. Not that it won't happen, but that it's unlikely to actually be of consequence. Most people don't have gaming networks as their only source of information, and those who do are usually safe in their basement anyway (well, unless it's a flood).

Option 2 is a major problem. Right now these are channels which only present fiction. Given the possibility that some of it is real (though nearly all of it is still fiction), some fools are going to misinterpret the fiction as real. And checking other sources won't completely solve the problem, because some of the time, those other sources will pick up the fictional information and present it through their own channels, making even sensible people believe it's real.

Re:Dumb idea (1)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163374)

Couldn't you make the same argument for the Emergency Broadcast System, which seems to work just fine?

Re:Dumb idea (2, Interesting)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163824)

True story from 2005 [westportnow.com]

Connecticut emergency management officials have apologized for an erroneous message sent to state broadcasters today saying an evacuation of the state had been ordered. State emergency management officials believe someone pressed the wrong button. Instead of running a test of the emergency alert system, midday television viewers and radio listeners were told that the state was being evacuated ........... State police said they received no calls related to the erroneous alert.

Re:Dumb idea (1)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 4 years ago | (#30164036)

People in our area regularly get and make use of emergency weather warnings transmitted over EAS.

I assure you, had people called about a midday alert that indicated the state was being evacuated with no reason given and no apparent reason, people on Slashdot would deride them for it.

Warning! (4, Funny)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163250)

Warning... Valkyrie needs food badly!

Re:Warning! (1)

mujadaddy (1238164) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163396)

Along those lines -- NO REALLY there is a FUCKING ZOMBIE INVASION LOCK THE BASEMENT DOOR!!! Have a nice day.

Re:Warning! (1)

DMUTPeregrine (612791) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163398)

Be careful! New moon tonight.

Re:Warning! (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163478)

Somebody set us up the bomb!

Re:Warning! (2, Funny)

damien_kane (519267) | more than 4 years ago | (#30164236)

Be careful! New moon tonight.

Not until midnight (in select theaters), until then it's waxing crescent.

Re:Warning! (1)

Krazy Kanuck (1612777) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163424)

Made my afternoon, thank you.

mandatory tests? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30163310)

so, I'm assuming that if emergency broadcasts begin using gaming networks, that the network will be subject to "tests of the emergency broadcast network"? Great! now I can hear children blaming race, sexual preference, lag, and DHS broadcasts for their sub-par performance.

Re:mandatory tests? (1)

rhathar (1247530) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163572)

now I can hear children blaming race, sexual preference, lag, and DHS broadcasts for their sub-par performance.

How does this one work, exactly? "You're so gay that you keep winning all the time!" Sounds like an incentive to me ;)

Not a new proposal... (1)

Cornwallis (1188489) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163370)

Remember when the Nixon White House proposed something similar back in the 70's - a TV set-top box to warn us of impending doom? People justifiably went apeshit at the idea of such a Big Brother intrusion.

I dunno, the timing is suspicious to me (2, Funny)

Provocateur (133110) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163412)

I think a couple of employees got their heads together and figured out how to game the System to get a Gaming System.

A likely scenario, boss talking to his team, complete with mock responses:

Keith you will be gaming online. We wont tell you when the alert will come, so better play a couple games.

"Damn!" *wink

You, Stan. Yours will involve a multimedia entertainment mode. See if it interrupts your BluRay viewing.

"I'd have to test it with the new BluRays that just came out. Could you put a note saying, Merry Christmas Darling?"

and so on

Who will be first? (1)

Mathness (145187) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163438)

I wonder who will be first to abuse this. Spammers, crackers or politicians sending messages during elections or when polls are low.

Revenue (1)

barzok (26681) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163446)

They're going to attempt to find some way to hook revenue generation into this. I guarantee it. The state's trying to find every possible way to make a buck.

Right now they're trying to force new license plates on everyone (and the design is hideous - '70s-'80s design crossed with an older Alaska plate) at $25 per car. Our current plates work perfectly fine, they're just trying to scrape together money.

Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem (1)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163474)

If this goes through it might be a good idea to make sure its also illegal for game devs to fake messages, even though it could be rather awesome to get an emergency message about the apocalypse going on.

Re:Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163850)

Ah, Eternal Darkness...yeah, you'd have to ban fake messages that appeared real, otherwise you'd run into issues...I think even Silicon Knights would understand that that would be crossing a line between reality and fantasy. But, in all honesty, something like this is probably needed. You wouldn't need to have the software developers build it in, since it could run at the OS level of the console. I can't remember the last time I actually watched TV on a TV though, so if there ever was an alert in my area, the only two ways I'd hear about it would be through friends or my RSS feed (which I only check about twice a day, at best, usually). In other words, in case of a real emergency, I'd be screwed.

Then again, I'm not on (modern) consoles enough for this to really matter either...

Re:Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem (1)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 4 years ago | (#30164004)

This is off topic but it would be really funny if there was an Eternal Darkness port to the 360 that fakes a RROD

Do not want (1)

Explodicle (818405) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163496)

Which is more likely:
  • The government will give gamers helpful and prompt warnings when we need them because of this service.
  • Actually important warnings will be distributed faster and more efficiently over existing channels, while the government cries wolf about tropical storms that never reach your state. Gamers are just annoyed and ignore all warnings because they aren't playing games to stay informed about important real-world events.

Achievement: You've been killed by a tornado! 0pts (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30163630)

A simple achievement toast popup would work just fine. And since achievements are like crack I bet this form of communication would get noticed a lot more.

Sigh. (1)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163634)

Imagine You're further than you've ever been before in some game you've invested months in, you're 30 minutes past the last possible save point, and after weeks of endless retries you're finally got the seemingly invincible boss down to 10% health and you have 80% health left. It really looks like finally you're gonna make it past him.

Suddenly all the things you need to stay alive are taken away from you. The sound you so badly need to give you early warning of boss attacks is replaced by a horrible 80's modem screech, and a large non-interruptable scrolling message that totally obscures the screen says: "This is the monthly test of the national security alert system...". After 30 seconds it goes away just in time for you to see the boss pounding your character to death against a wall like a rag doll.

Now you have to start all over again.

I would be pissed.

All For it (1)

ironicsky (569792) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163662)

I'm all for the government being able to notify people in the event of a real emergency by any means necessary. They cal already forcefully take over all radio stations and TV stations with the flick of a switch (Well its a bit more complicated, but yes, its quite simple). This should be used for real emergencies, like "If you do not leave town now you will die" or "the dyke broke... so, unless you know how to swim, time to get out" not this crap of "OMG!!! Its snowing! Everyone panick" crap that we see now.

If they can take over all tv stations and radio stations in an area what good does that do for people like me who watch TV online and stream my music? If they could also work with ISP's to DNS Redirect all web requests from a specific region during an emergency that would be okay too, as long as the viewer could acknowledge they got the message and resume normal web surfing.. This is easily done with Squid Proxy and a few lines of config... If they could force text message every cell phone user in a specific region, that would be good too - "LOLZ, u got 2 leave... city is on fire... lolz".

Hell, if they decide that they want the phone companies to institute rolling automated outbound calls to let people know that would be fine too. Start with one exchange (XXX-XXX-YYYY), do all #'s, and move on to the next exchange so the phone system does not get over loaded.

Hell, Video Games, IM's and everyone else should be fair game too.

In an emergency(a real one, not a weather report) getting everyone's attention is hard... The more options they can use the better. If all the communication saves one extra persons life, some would say its worth it.

SAME (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30163688)

Midland SAME-compliant radio, $30 at a nearby chain grocery store. Sits in my home office silently listening to NOAA, and when it makes noise, my wife and I gather around it to listen to the flash flood warning or whatever God decided to throw at Florida for the week.

alert tradios (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30163728)

If you really want to make sure nobody has an excuse to miss an alert:

Wouldn't it be cheaper to just buy a massively bulk quantity of Alert radios and the technician force (and police escort) to install one in each and every house and apartment and commercial building and car? Require all new construction to include them and all vehicles to have them installed before a title will be issued.

I have an alert radio running on the house power line, and it has a battery backup. I can't hear the big outdoor sirens unless the windows are open, which they usually are not. I can only hear the regular radio alerts when the radio is on, which is usually only when I am in the car. I can only hear the TV alerts when I am watching TV, which is very seldom. If it weren't for my alert radio, I would never know when something major (usually a tornado or flash flood) was happening within a few hundred miles of me.

Which games would this alert be on? How much is it going to cost to implement and deploy? What if the game I'm currently playing isn't one of those? If something bad happens to me, can I sue the city for omitting my game of choice?

What if I'm just browsing the web? Maybe he city should force all ISPs to hijack all active TCP connections to inject the warning into them. Where does this stop?

Re:alert tradios (1)

egburr (141740) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163752)

not sure why this posted as a coward. I never select that....

What about DVRs? (1)

edelbrp (62429) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163770)

I was watching my TiVo a few years ago and 'EMERGENCY!' There was a tornado watch in effect. Sadly, it ruined the program I was watching which was recorded over a week before. So, when will DVRs recognize the alert tones and play them through to whatever (potentially recorded) program you are *currently* watching?

Re:What about DVRs? (1)

ironicsky (569792) | more than 4 years ago | (#30164210)

The problem of how this works is, the overlay(the alert) is added at the source(tv station) or the cable provider before it reaches your PVR. Your PVR would not have any way if removing the warnings from the recording. The only option would be for the PVR to throw out any recording where an alert tone is played. But some alerts are just scrolling bars and some are full scale take overs, so the PVR would not know whether the alert if taking over your recording or just being seriously annoying.

First there was emergency notice... (1)

Archfeld (6757) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163900)

Then having opted in 1000's of nervous people made more afraid by over-hyped news media, they will 'realize' the potential as a delivery method for more ads....

Greeting Gamers this is your Fox 'News' Weekday hurricane warning brought to you by Carl's Jr...

What the hell are they going to tell them? (1)

JumpDrive (1437895) | more than 4 years ago | (#30163928)

They got no guns (it's New York)?
They are surrounded by water, without enough exits for an emergency evacuation.
So what is the individual going to do? Tell everyone "Call to Duty" said the "Chinese are attacking".
What exactly is the message going to say? "Run for the Hudson and swim for it".

Maybe just a scrolling message on the bottom of the screen which said " You know , if you would spend half this time on studying Engineering, Politics, History, coding, languages..... you could quite possibly be a more productive member of society".
Would be more helpful

Re:What the hell are they going to tell them? (1)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 4 years ago | (#30164196)

They got no guns (it's New York)?

There are plenty of guns outside of New York City -- the state has some of the least restrictive gun laws in the country.

They are surrounded by water, without enough exits for an emergency evacuation.

Only Manhattan, Long Island, and Staten Island. Part of NYC, along with all the rest of the state, is not an island. Compare with Hawaii, a state that is entirely island.

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