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How Gamers Could Save the (Real) World

samzenpus posted about 8 months ago | from the as-easy-as-pressing-a-button dept.

Games 145

Nerval's Lobster writes "Three years ago, game designer and author Jane McGonigal argued that saving the human race is going to require a major time investment—in playing video games. 'If we want to solve problems like hunger, poverty, climate change, global conflict, obesity, I believe that we need to aspire to play games online for at least 21 billion hours a week [up from 3 billion today], by the end of the next decade,' she said in a TED talk. Her message was not ignored—and it has indirectly contributed to the formation of something called the Internet Response League (IRL). The small group has a big goal: to harness gamers' time and use it to save lives after disasters, natural or otherwise. The idea is to insert micro-tasks into games, specifically asking gamers to tag photos of disaster areas. With the IRL plugin, each image would be shown to at least three people, who tag the photo as showing no damage, mild damage, or severe damage. The Internet Response League has been in talks with a couple of indie developers, including one that's developing a new MMO. Mosur said they've tried to get in touch with World of Warcraft maker Blizzard, but haven't had any luck yet. Blizzard did not return a request for comment from Slashdot."

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145 comments

Gamification must die (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44570521)

Lipstick on a pig, etc.

Re:Gamification must die (2)

c0lo (1497653) | about 8 months ago | (#44571507)

On this line of thinking, why wouldn't IRL publish those photos to be tagged in a non-game environ?
I mean, until attempting to recruit gamers to do the job, was it practically (In Real Life) proven the bottleneck is the lack of people willing to do it anyway? (or is it a "theoretical projection" [xkcd.com] to impress TED?)

The League of Extraordinary Couch Potatoes (5, Insightful)

goombah99 (560566) | about 8 months ago | (#44571965)

Why must Gamification die? It's a very potent concept. It's like saying "Placebos" must die. You might have some intellectual qualms about it "working for the wrong reasons" but it works really well. While we live in an age of explicit gamificiation including reality TV, which gamifies human interaction, basically people have always done things that make their work more than just work. We foster freindly competitions between work teams, we offer prizes for company groups that raise the most donations for charity, etc... You could easily say that the satisfaction of the work or the donations to charity, being incentive enough and we dont' actually need to add external conditions different from the the actual objectives. But that's not how humans work. We like taking long term goals and adding in extraneous rules that divide the long term goal into short term quick rewards--even if they are artificial. The couch potatoe's willingness to lie there perfroming pointless game playing is evidence that humans are sometimes powerless against this rapid reward system, so why not turn that to doing good things.

Re:Gamification must die (4, Funny)

lxs (131946) | about 8 months ago | (#44572181)

Agreed but if I understand correctly this is workification of games.

Re:Gamification must die (4, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | about 8 months ago | (#44572197)

It's a kind of zombie that never dies. Charles Fourier, utopian socialist, proposed in the 1850s that in the future, productive play could replace work. Vladimir Lenin, glorious leader of the revolution, thought [kmjn.org] in the 1920s that internal competitions were a good way of motivating production. Since then a dozen hack management consultants have been reinventing the ideas of work-as-play, productive play, etc every 10 years or so. Someone coined the word "playbour", if "gamification" wasn't obscene enough for you.

Re:Gamification must die (1)

Seumas (6865) | about 8 months ago | (#44572313)

The McGonigal sisters aren't going to let that prevent them from milking either gamers (who are eager to accept anyone promoting them in any way, because theyr'e so desperate to be seen in any light other than the dorito-munching basement dwellers we usually are) or those gullible to goofy self-help mumbojumbo (her sister is a psychologist who writes books about "Yoga for Pain Relief" and "A Compassion-Based Program for Personal Transformation").

That they've both given TED Talks doesn't impress me, in and of itself, either.

Blizzard (4, Funny)

ls671 (1122017) | about 8 months ago | (#44570533)

Blizzard:
"A severe snowstorm with high winds and low visibility."

It is hard to "tag" in those conditions...

Re:Blizzard (1)

Xicor (2738029) | about 8 months ago | (#44571021)

blizzard has no reason to want to do something like this. blizzard is a for profit company that makes games for entertainment. "games" for world peace are not on their list of priorities

I am not convinced. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44570555)

While there are some similarities between games and work, there are also marked differences. Though the concept of "fun" is nebulous, the fact is, you can't fool a gamer into thinking he is having fun while he is actually doing work. And, inserting work into games will harm their bottom line.

The most that will come out of this is a few work-games that a very small community of players engage in mostly out of altruism, rather than recreation.

Re:I am not convinced. (5, Insightful)

Agent ME (1411269) | about 8 months ago | (#44570955)

you can't fool a gamer into thinking he is having fun while he is actually doing work

Have you ever seen someone play an MMO?

Re:I am not convinced. (5, Interesting)

reve_etrange (2377702) | about 8 months ago | (#44571227)

And not just MMOs or even RPGs. "Grinding" exists in a lot of games.

The trick though is to actually map the data to be analyzed as well as the gamer response to purposeful in-game actions. For example, in REAMDE (by Neal Stephenson) gamers in a MMO monitor in-game security checkpoints (e.g. as part of clan duties or in return for gold) which model actual security checkpoints at airports.

In the real world... (5, Funny)

harlequinn (909271) | about 8 months ago | (#44570591)

How are gamer hours going to translate/transform into real world physical effort?

I think the vast majority of those 21 billion hours per week would be much better spent getting up off of arses and actually doing something.

Re:In the real world... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44570649)

Hey asshole, gamers work hard too. How they spend their time off is none of your fuckin business. Why don't you spend the 6+ hours a day you spend sleeping more productively?

Re:In the real world... (2)

harlequinn (909271) | about 8 months ago | (#44571017)

Hey arsehole right back at you. I'm a gamer. The 21 billion hours is in reference to the specific hours used to produce results in "saving the human race".

Re:In the real world... (4, Informative)

iggymanz (596061) | about 8 months ago | (#44570703)

well, had you read the article, you'd have learne of the enormous amount of man-hours relief organizations have to spend going through photos, offloading that work frees them up to better spend time. most of us can't just jump on a plane and go help.

Besides which, for those of us not gamers, a donation the size of restaurant bill for two buys surprising amount of supplies.

So yes, we sedentary creatures sitting on our butts in front of a screen can help people thousands of miles away. Go ahead and laugh at us.

Re:In the real world... (1)

harlequinn (909271) | about 8 months ago | (#44571025)

Ahh the idiocy of assumptions. I've been playing computer games for the last 26 years and I'm not about to stop.

Now, if you could please say how 21 billion gamer hours, in reference to "saving the human race", would be better spent playing games than doing real work in "saving the human race" then I'd love to know how.

I've already seen the article suggestions. But sorting through a few photos, even a few thousand photos would take a tiny proportion of 21 billion crowd sourced gaming hours. What are we going to do with the other 99.999999% of those hours?

Re:In the real world... (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about 8 months ago | (#44571187)

Kill virtual humans, of course. Or zombies or aliens if that's your preference.

The real idiocy here is the presumption that vast numbers of gamers would willingly spend ANY of their time doing anything that benefits anyone other than themselves.

Re:In the real world... (4, Insightful)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about 8 months ago | (#44571197)

Kill virtual humans, of course. Or zombies or aliens if that's your preference.

The real idiocy here is the presumption that vast numbers of gamers would willingly spend ANY of their time doing anything that benefits anyone other than themselves.

Says someone posting in the comments section of a website.

Re:In the real world... (2)

reve_etrange (2377702) | about 8 months ago | (#44571233)

Every action anyone undertakes can always be reduced to some set of selfish motives, since our actions our predicated on the expectation of desired responses from the world. It's not a meaningful critique.

Re:In the real world... (1)

reve_etrange (2377702) | about 8 months ago | (#44571249)

I think you would have to (somehow) map the real-world task to important in-game activity.

Off the top of my head, in an open-world game like Fallout you might have certain dialogue options with inhabitants of a structure which indicate that the player considers the structure ruined. The difficult part is in having the system model the photograph of the structure without itself being able to recognize its state.

Re:In the real world... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44570805)

maybe but playing kinect-like games you could generate some energy at least..

Re:In the real world... (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 8 months ago | (#44570855)

Nope, when you are outside you are consuming resources. Sitting inside is one of the best things humans can do, short of suicide.

Re:In the real world... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44571061)

Uhm, what? Sitting inside is the worst thing you can do. Sitting inside means basically doing nothing productive (well, nothing real and physical), while consuming resources like lighting and air-conditioning and/or heating. It's ridiculously wasteful to sit inside watching a big-screen TV in a house chilled down to 73F, when you could be outside working up a sweat in the heat and doing something semi-useful like turning over a compost heap. Just... anything remotely useful and physically productive, because it will also naturally keep you in shape. Simple outdoor yardwork is a very efficient way to do that! And then you being in shape cuts down on your medical issues which in turn saves society billions in keeping you on the sickly-life-support-system that is the modern medical establishment.

We need to stop candy-coating this aspect of the human problem, pronto. In America the number one cause of major health issues is people sitting on their asses all day and sucking sugar through a straw until they get fat and get diabetic. And then to make matters worse, instead of letting them die of their own stupidity, we waste billions keeping them alive for another several decades getting fatter and more diabetic and still eating the same crap and watching the same TV all day. It's like giving a permanent chain-smoker a new set of transplant lungs every 5 years and never bothering to indict him for smoking in the first place. After all, lung transplants are good business for someone somewhere!

Re:In the real world... (4, Informative)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about 8 months ago | (#44570895)

Got bored halfway through the summary and stopped reading, I see.

Well, basically, the people on the ground in these disaster areas have a limited number of hours available to work, and they're currently spending a lot of time doing work that can be off-loaded to people on the Internet (e.g. identifying areas in need of help by way of pictures). While having more people on the ground would clearly be more useful most of the time, few people are willing to drop their lives for a few weeks or months and fly to a region that likely has no electricity, running water, or something that they would typically consider shelter (not to mention that many people would simply get in the way more than they would help), so the more we can do to enable the people that ARE willing to drop everything to get useful work done while they're over there, the better.

Having been to a third-world region in order to work on building a cistern so that they would have safe drinking water, and also working on digging trenches that would eventually be used to run electric and plumbing lines through mountainous terrain (it wasn't during a disaster, however), I can attest to just how valuable it can be to have someone else helping with the logistics so that the people on the ground are able to get as much work done as possible. The more that you can off-load that work, the better, particularly during an emergency.

Re:In the real world... (1)

harlequinn (909271) | about 8 months ago | (#44571029)

That isn't going to take 21 billion crowd sourced gamer hours. What are we going to do with the other 99.999999% of those hours to productively "save the human race".

Re:In the real world... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44571389)

Maybe you should have used some hours to learn to read and get more than a superficial understanding of stuff before posting.

Re:In the real world... (2)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 8 months ago | (#44571193)

Well, basically, the people on the ground in these disaster areas have a limited number of hours available to work, and they're currently spending a lot of time doing work that can be off-loaded to people on the Internet (e.g. identifying areas in need of help by way of pictures). While having more people on the ground would clearly be more useful most of the time, few people are willing to drop their lives for a few weeks or months and fly to a region that likely has no electricity, running water, or something that they would typically consider shelter (not to mention that many people would simply get in the way more than they would help), so the more we can do to enable the people that ARE willing to drop everything to get useful work done while they're over there, the better.

Basically, it's a gamer-community sourced version of the Mechanical Turk. Except instead of doing it for money, you're doing it to help some community in need.

Of course, one could realize that perhaps a better way would be to use more casual games like you see on Facebook and such. Hell, you could do it to speed up some wait for your crops to come in, thus doing some good while doing something pointless.

Or do it during some slow periods like when you're waiting to be matched for a game - gives yous omething to do instead of staring at the "please wait" prompt. Or other short delay - these tasks can be done in a few seconds, after all.

Re:In the real world... (1)

reve_etrange (2377702) | about 8 months ago | (#44571265)

Hell, you could do it to speed up some wait for your crops to come in, thus doing some good while doing something pointless.

That's a good idea if you integrate the feature without breeding any resentment. I think the most effective approach would be to model whatever the input is in-game, and have the human analysis required mapped to an in-game action. It's really hard to think of system designs for this which don't require the computer to already be able to perform the analysis.

I doubt Blizzard will reply (5, Insightful)

Molt (116343) | about 8 months ago | (#44570601)

Blizzard's main priority with World of Warcraft is getting people to keep paying their subs, and to do this they make the game as engaging as possible. This goes against that by both managing to destroy the sense of immersion by dragging gamers out of their game world, and also by forming a link in the player's mind between Warcraft and real-world scenes of suffering. Not a connection that most players will want in their recreation time.

Where things may work better is where it's possible to both turn the work itself into a game, and also to wrap it in an appealing layer to stop it having too strong a connection in the player's mind with the reality behind it. An example of this would be the recent Facebook game developed to help identify some genetic factors in Ash tree dieback, as detailed in this BBC News story [bbc.co.uk] . Here the presentation is cute, and the focus is on making it a game. The only problem I could see here is that I can't see how it's cheaper/more efficient to develop and serve the entire content for even a simple game compared to just doing the pattern matching in a more traditional manner, but for other tasks I could see it working.

The basic idea is there though, make the work part of the game rather than making it a task which detracts from the game. Something which this story doesn't seem to recognise.

Overheard in Utopia (5, Funny)

The Cat (19816) | about 8 months ago | (#44570607)

"Hey, there's a big disaster happening. Meh."

"Dude, sent the paramedics to Canada. For the lulz."

"The graphics suck. Everything sucks."

Re:Overheard in Utopia (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44571271)

"Hey, there's a big disaster happening. Meh."

"Dude, sent the paramedics to Canada. For the lulz."

"The graphics suck. Everything sucks."

Just a bit too true to be funny.

Look, I can pick up a hooker, which restores my health, and then kill her to get my money back!*

*Thank you Grand Theft Auto

Great plot for a book/movie (1)

OricAtmos48K (979353) | about 8 months ago | (#44570609)

Like Ender's Game !!

Re:Great plot for a book/movie (2, Informative)

reve_etrange (2377702) | about 8 months ago | (#44571273)

REAMDE by Neal Stephenson has exactly this idea as a plot point. Gamers in a MMO monitor a security checkpoint as part of guild duties, which itself is a model of a real-world airport security checkpoint. The problem with realization is that the system in the book seems to require that the program can itself recognize the input data, in order to construct the model accurately.

Say what? (1)

djupedal (584558) | about 8 months ago | (#44570613)

I'm pretty sure this was part of the premise for SGU...

"The Stargate program has founded Icarus base on a remote planet whose Stargate is powered by large naquadria deposits throughout the core. The team, led by Dr. Nicholas Rush, postulate that the power from that core could allow them to use a 9-chevron code to "dial" into the Stargate, allowing them access to locations far remote from their galaxy, but lack the means to translate the writing of the Ancients to understand how to dial this properly. Dr. Rush designs a video game used across Earth to find brilliant minds to interpret the puzzle, which Eli Wallace, a young mathematics genius, is able to solve."

Tags: slow; news; day

Re:Say what? (3, Insightful)

darury (1235658) | about 8 months ago | (#44570861)

To be fair, it was basically the premise of "The Last Starfighter" first.

Alex Rogan is a teenager living in a trailer park with his mother and little brother, Louis Rogan. While working as the park's handyman and dreaming of going to college, Alex's sole activity is playing Starfighter, an arcade game where the player defends "the Frontier" from "Xur and the Ko-Dan Armada" in a space battle. Eventually he becomes the game's highest-scoring player. A short time later, he is approached by the game's inventor, Centauri who invites him to take a ride. Alex does so, discovering the car is actually a spaceship. It turns out Centauri is a disguised alien who takes him to the faraway planet Rylos.

Re:Say what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44571845)

In some sense, perhaps the Königsberg bridge problem was probably one of the first games that sought out a brilliant mind (Euler) to find the answer (or in this case the prove the nonexistance of an answer)...

Re:Say what? (2)

Beardydog (716221) | about 8 months ago | (#44570863)

That's more like the plot of The Last Sarfight, where the game operates as a talent search, but the players do no useful work while playing. I would suggest, as an alternative, Toys (with Robin Williams), in which the villain plan to fill arcades with machines that are secretly relaying video from (and control signals to) attack drones overseas, putting the natural killing skills of gamers to use without risking their lives or their mental well being (through the tsss of danger, or the stress of killing).

Power too! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44570619)

This is like attaching generators to people's legs to get them to generate some power. Yeah, the clutch is only engaged occassionally, but it's tedious and will wear on people pretty quickly.

Up next... (3, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 8 months ago | (#44570647)

To advance to the next level, match the following corporate logo to its motto...

Well, it can't be much worse than it is now with DLC and in-game tutorials. Gone are the days of Doom when the instruction manual was 'New Game' and you dropped into E1M1 and either figured it out in short order, or died repeatedly until you did. Or like some of the old-school Nintendo games. You couldn't beat them, but they were fun anyway. Now everyone's a precious snowflake and games have different options in case you happen to suck at, say, using a mouse. I'm looking at you, Mass Effect 3.

Re:Up next... (3, Insightful)

artor3 (1344997) | about 8 months ago | (#44570741)

Are you seriously bitching that games these days are too fun? That they should be punishing and brutal? Maybe you're some unemployed shut-in who can devote 10+ hours a day to mastering a Nintendo-hard game, but that ain't something to brag about.

Re:Up next... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44570817)

Are you seriously bitching that games these days are too fun? That they should be punishing and brutal?

No to the first one, yes to the second. Press X to win is boring.
Remember Dwarf Fortress' motto: dying is fun.

Re:Up next... (4, Insightful)

artor3 (1344997) | about 8 months ago | (#44570957)

But Dwarf Fortress exists. So do Super Hexagon and I Wanna Be The Guy and a bunch of other difficult games. Mainstream titles too, e.g. XCOM's hardest mode with save-scumming disabled (I forget the name of it). There are plenty of options for people who want something extremely challenging. It's just that there are also options for people who don't have the time to master that shit, and just want to unwind. The only people who think that's a problem are the "elite" gamers who are angry that their hobby has gone mainstream and attracted a broader audience.

Re:Up next... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44571087)

Very few games are Nintendo-hard, and I don't mind that. But you're mistaken in saying there are plenty of options for people who want a challenge. In the first Doom and/or (I can't remember which) DukeNukem 3D we had a dozen difficulties to choose from, nowadays they only give us Very Easy, Easy, Normalish (and label it Easy, Normal, Hard).

Anyhow, that wasn't my point. I think you're wrong in seeing fun as incompatible with "brutality" (at least I think that's what you said, maybe I'm misinterpreting you). Failure in a game doesn't need to be a bad thing, although modern games tend to avoid it like the plague. Many games punish you and make it a horrible experience - like forcing you to watch once again a long cutscene before a difficult boss - but it doesn't have to be like that (and when it is the game failed). Take roguelikes, for instance. I never managed to beat one, failed every single time I tried and still had fun.

PS: the XCOM mode without save-scumming is called Ironman.

Re:Up next... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44571291)

In the first Doom and/or (I can't remember which) DukeNukem 3D we had a dozen difficulties to choose from, nowadays they only give us Very Easy, Easy, Normalish (and label it Easy, Normal, Hard).

Doom gave Very Easy, Easy, Normal and Hard. The fifth difficulty setting was only added at 1.2 as a post-release patch that wasn't available to players who got an early version but had no Internet access.

Duke Nukem 3D also gave only four difficulty levels.

These difficulty levels weren't that numerous. Practically the only games that came close to that amount would either be BattleChess (adjusted thinking time upto ~40 minutes), Saboteur (adjusted positions of items), System Shock (four independent sliders = 256 difficulty settings). However, most games really don't need more than five.

I think you're wrong in seeing fun as incompatible with "brutality"

This strongly depends on they type of brutality. In case of those games listed, they have other features to make up for extreme difficulty, or are still accessible for those who want an easy game.

The less fun form of Brutality appears in games such as Silver Surfer for NES (explained by AVGN), Dirty Harry for NES (including the "Ha ha" room), Sierra games where you have to consult the walkthrough to even complete the game (e.g. you need to eat, the only food around seems to be a pie, and eating it blocks the game much later).

Re:Up next... (3, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 8 months ago | (#44571387)

The only people who think that's a problem are the "elite" gamers who are angry that their hobby has gone mainstream and attracted a broader audience.

+5, Strawman.

Let's backup the fail train here and start over: Adding external content to a game ruins the experience. I don't want to be fixing somebody else's realworld problems in my entertainment escapism. There's nothing "elite" about this... Nintendo games were simple. They were hardcoded. They didn't have internet connections. And they were still awesome. This has nothing to do with a "broader" audience... it has to do with advancements in technology. Ever since the internet became a thing for games, we've got shit like the XBone requiring it for single-player games. We're integrating advertising into the menus of all kinds of entertainment devices.

This isn't about me going "oh poor me, I'm an elite gamer and all this mainstream attention is ruining the experience"... it's "oh poor me, my entertainment experience is being ruined by profiteering assholes who are shoving shit nobody wants down my throat..." and the only thing a "broader audience" has to do with it, is that they're too damned apathetic and ignorant to know that it was ever any other way.

Re:Up next... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44570879)

And how much fun is a game if there is absolutely no challenge??
This is the case with many modern games including the one he pointed out. Even at hardest difficulty there was no real challenge with mass effect 3.

Re:Up next... (0)

Nephandus (2953269) | about 8 months ago | (#44571003)

If by fun, you mean dumbed down for ignorant spastic retards. They DID change it. Now, it DOES suck. You're just one of those they're catering to and probably call yourself a gamer, no less. Gah, "geek chic" poseurs need to fucking die already. I swear I never here words like "lame" used for anything in game for anything but someone getting their n00b ass kicked.

Re:Up next... (2)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 8 months ago | (#44571365)

Are you seriously bitching that games these days are too fun?

Umm yeah. I hate fun. True story.

That they should be punishing and brutal?

Strawman much? No. I was making fun of integrating 'real world' things into games. I want an escape, not to have more advertising or fixing someone else's real-world problems shoved down my throat. Which is what the article is suggesting we do. Because if we start adding 'public service' things into games that provide zero profit, how long do you think until gaming companies start using the same technology to make profit with it? I think we can measure the latency there in nanoseconds.

Maybe you're some unemployed shut-in who can devote 10+ hours a day to mastering a Nintendo-hard game, but that ain't something to brag about.

Strawman followed by personal attack. Yeah, definately worth the upmod.

Re:Up next... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44572309)

Games are not as fun as they used to be. If I want hand holding and someone else to walk me through a game I watch a movie instead. Games should be games, not interactive movies where an endboss appears, and at the same time circle - square - triangle combo indicator appears on screen. Then, if by some magical gaming SKILL I'm ablo to hit the three buttons in the specified order I get to see a short movie where my character kills the end boss. Where is the fun in that? If I don't hit the buttons it just keeps hinteing them at me untill I will. My paralyzed grandma could beat that, by rolling on the controller.

New anti-games are NOT FUN. They are not even games, they are interactive movies. Games need to have a challenge to be fun. The most stupid idea i've seen are trophies and awards. WHO THE FUCK CARES about some in-game awards? Ok, this far i've killed 30 enemies, so I get an award, wohoo! If killing those enemies was at least challenging i will feel good having accomplished that, even without the trophy. But when I just know every and each player over the age of 2 is able to do it, it's just "meh". If I fail at it the first 20 times I'll feel really great when I finally get it done. If I can just walk through the game without even paying real attention I will get bored really fast. Great graphics only have the wow efect for so long.

I believe this is why online competitive games are as huge as they are, they still offer challenge.

Internet Response League (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44570673)

Is this being published by Marvel or DC?

Also: which heroes will be included?

Greetings. (4, Funny)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | about 8 months ago | (#44570691)

Greetings, Starfighter. You have been recruited by the Star League to defend the frontier against Xur and the Ko-Dan armada.

Re:Greetings. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44571279)

Greetings, Starfighter. You have been recruited by the Star League to defend the frontier against Xur and the Ko-Dan armada.

Forget the Star League, I want that car!

Good idea on paper but... (1)

synir (731266) | about 8 months ago | (#44570701)

... It's not going to be that interesting to make it into an interesting game. Which means a game people will actually play.

Sure, having those millions of eyes clicking away at real pictures would be tremendously helpful but it's not that easy to get them to actually look at said pictures.

Popular games are designed from scratch to be attractive, addictive, progressively rewarding, etc. And existent ones won't risk their popularity by introducing something that doesn't fit in that design. What kind of minigame takes you from staring at the Night Elf dancing on top of a mailbox in Goldshire into staring at blurry pictures of an intersection in Iowa?

If... (1)

rossdee (243626) | about 8 months ago | (#44570735)

If everyone spent their free time playing video games insead of having sex, then there would be less population and a lot of the worlds problems would go away.
Slashdot users are already doing their part .

Re:If... (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 8 months ago | (#44570823)

Slashdot users are already doing their part .

I've done my part so much that I've made it all red and sore.

Only if... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44570755)

Zynga has nothing to do with it

Reamde? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44570827)

Sounds like someone's been reading Neal Stephenson.

Don't need a game, just a web site or similar (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 8 months ago | (#44570873)

Galaxy zoo is an example of crowdsourcing, it's been made interesting enough that people will do it instead of playing games.
Of course you could use people that produce entertainment to make these things interesting, so maybe using WoW staff to bring elements of WoW into something designed to do a task.

Griefers (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44570875)

In the course of every video game ever produced, someone has figured out a way to play it "wrong", often in imaginative ways that the designers never imagined in their wildest dreams. Often in ways that are extremely destructive to the original intent of the game. WOW plague in real life wouldn't be very funny.

How's that going to work?

what part of "disaster area" didnt you understand? (1)

Gravis Zero (934156) | about 8 months ago | (#44570907)

if you are going to be showing images of disaster areas, there are going to be dead people, possibly killed in gruesome ways. the knowledge that you are looking at something real can turn something that would be funny in a video game to be a nightmare inducing image. there are things that nobody wants to see.

Re:what part of "disaster area" didnt you understa (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44572249)

the knowledge that you are looking at something real can turn something that would be funny in a video game to be a nightmare inducing image. there are things that nobody wants to see.

Making people sort through war zone victims might decrease their enthusiasm for supporting wars. It's nothing like what the actual victims have to go through, of course, but stopping the emotional detachment might be a really good idea.

Exactly because there are things that nobody wants to see.

Works so well in time of crisis (2)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | about 8 months ago | (#44570941)

Witness the crowdsourced identification of the Boston bombing dudes. Some poor dude was 'identified', and a semi-major newspaper picked it up..."Hey...that's the guy!"
Sucks to be him. Or you.

Gamers already save the world sometimes (4, Interesting)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | about 8 months ago | (#44571051)

Gamers stay out of the streets, which conserves precious gasoline that is in short supply.

Gamers like stoners, have a tendency to actually enjoy their life, so they're not as likely to go screw around and hurt other people's lives.



But on the flip side:



Gamers are satisfied with their life of gaming and don't care what goes on in the world around them as much. This generation has its bread and circuses and isn't likely to revolt. But why should we get upset with government anyway? It is always screwing people over so it isn't like there is anything new there. Best is to live in your gaming community and have fun while the rest of the world is busy trying to screw each other over.

If gamers really wanted to save the world, this is all they'd have to do:
Play the latest and greatest MMO where you can sell lewt and make real money. Then donate a portion of the money you make playing video games to the poor. I'm sure a lot of them do this now.

The only thing I really worry about is if gaming communities start getting like what happened to League of Legends. You can get cursed out just by joining games and choosing your character. People have such a short fuse there. And people who are jerks to others triggers other people to backlash and become jerks in a way too. LOL is pretty fun and kinda easy compared to Starcraft, but the toxic community means it is unplayable for pubbies.

Coming from the arcade generation where everyone was pretty cool in person. Except from the rare time when someone doesn't pay up on a gambling wager and gets throttled, I never saw anyone rage on someone else. The worst I saw apart from that in 20 odd years in arcades is people calling other people cheesers for doing the same move over and over in fighting games. The best was when I was under 10 and a highschool kid used to give me quarters to play asteroids, or other forging of friendships.

To me, the gaming communities can forge the general population's personalities. And today you had people like Idra and other streamers making it seem cool to rage on other players because they get more views. That stuff isn't cool, it is childish. I wonder how much rubs off on League of Legends players thinking it is okay to rage on strangers as a result. Probably not at all, it is probably just the fact that 5 strangers are being forced to play as a disciplined team. I guess this is the same premise that gets ratings on Survivor, but people have a reason to at least appear to be nice to each other there.

Anyway, these are just some observations. For the most part, I think gamers help society by sponsoring tech. Would we have as cool as computers today if there weren't people churning quarters into pong and pacman back in the day? I'm happy with my fellow man being satisfied with life. Gaming really ups the quality of my life as it gives an outlet for my desire to do problem solving and combat related thinking. I'd say in general that gamers aren't really a problem for society even though Congress always wants to paint them as a scapegoat for problems that have been around as long as man has existed. Are we going to unite like they did back to protest Vietnam, no, we won't... Probably not unless they go and shut off the Internet.

Re:Gamers already save the world sometimes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44571631)

Just in case you haven't played LoL in a long time, the community there is far less toxic now that Riot has put a year or two of effort into it. Does stupid shit still happen? Yeah, but it's not nearly as bad you will see in person in a high school classroom, by comparison.

O, Brave New World... Parallels are springing up faster than we can count them between the growth of omniscient surveillance and the effects it has been having on online communities... In a very real way, the loss of our privacy is both inevitable and not nearly as utterly evil as fist-pumping ideologues would have you believe.

More Realistic (1)

mearvk (1112677) | about 8 months ago | (#44571093)

Better somehow to generalize game theory from all those hours gaming and work out from that realistic, sustainable hybrids of competitive and non-competitive economic and social systems so we can get on with getting on.

CAPTCHAs and Foldit (1)

NekoYasha (1040568) | about 8 months ago | (#44571097)

IRL's approach seems to be: have gamers to do something they don't want (tagging photos), in order to get something they want (games). Which seems reeeally close to what ReCAPTCHA is doing (read unscannable words, so you can sign up for accounts). (Although tagging disaster areas will need more training than reading mungled text.)

And then there's FoldIt [fold.it] , which challenges players with folding proteins into a minimum energy state. This is key to understanding how proteins work, and important for understanding diseases and creating new medicine. In FoldIt, though, the work (folding proteins) is the game, and training comes as a set of tutorial levels. People can play solo for high score, or try to improve on the solution of others.

Re:CAPTCHAs and Foldit (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about 8 months ago | (#44571209)

IRL's approach seems to be: have gamers to do something they don't want (tagging photos), in order to get something they want (games). Which seems reeeally close to what ReCAPTCHA is doing (read unscannable words, so you can sign up for accounts). (Although tagging disaster areas will need more training than reading mungled text.)

And then there's FoldIt [fold.it] , which challenges players with folding proteins into a minimum energy state. This is key to understanding how proteins work, and important for understanding diseases and creating new medicine. In FoldIt, though, the work (folding proteins) is the game, and training comes as a set of tutorial levels. People can play solo for high score, or try to improve on the solution of others.

Just open up a website with a decent client (like FoldIt did) and I think you'd find tons of people would happily volunteer time to help out with a natural disaster. The problem at the moment is there's no medium to do that - the idea that we somehow need to trick or force people into it is skipping the all important "how much time would people volunteer given the chance?" step. FoldIt is a triumph in that regard, but the main thing is it's pretty straight-forward - they didn't think they needed to trick people into it.

Re:CAPTCHAs and Foldit (1)

reve_etrange (2377702) | about 8 months ago | (#44571289)

I think the "exchange" model is absolutely wrong for the application; what you want is to determine a correspondence between the input data and human response required for the real world task, and specific, meaningful in-game actions.

Consumption (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44571117)

I was sure this was going to be about how we could cull massive consumption of resources by playing games instead of doing other things. Instead it's about how a modestly sophisticated AI could solve all problems, but for now we can use gamers instead. Just imagine how our problems are all already solved by computers (hint: we will find new problems, at the very least by making more people until said problems prevent that from working)

Sure, lots of non-gamers and non game devs support making making game design not about making the games fun. Really though, I'd play normal WoW over WoW with extra mini-game crap. Game dev is a competitive market, its not some mass of free labor.

TED... (1)

luckymutt (996573) | about 8 months ago | (#44571315)

...has really jumped the shark.
I can't remember the last time I heard a TED Talk that was truly innovative, inspiring or otherwise worth sharing.

Solving Obesity by playing 7x as much? WTF? (1)

rolfwind (528248) | about 8 months ago | (#44571363)

Maybe cut that obesity rate down and you can solve some hunger issues at the same time. And cut ethanol while you're at it.

tards are as tards propose (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44571433)

Uh yeah great idea.

How about simply fixing the problems dierectly instead of some leftard solution with layers of bureacracy and attemptring to coerce people into something they dont really care about (and people who dont want the fake help anyway)

Games with flashing lights to send some percentage into seizures (to lower their total carbon consumption) is a much more workable solution.

Why pick on gamers? (1)

pumpknhd (575415) | about 8 months ago | (#44571443)

Why not mobilize all couch potatoes? Install 3 buttons on all TV remotes. Viewers must press "no damage", "mild damage" or "severe damage" before every channel flipping, or better yet, to keep the TV on. Or when I'm driving to work in stop and go traffic, I could do something meaningful with 3 simple buttons in the car...

This is not so stupid (1)

vikingpower (768921) | about 8 months ago | (#44571523)

The R & D institute I work for is getting into CDM ( Crisis and Disaster Management ). One of the first conclusions we drew, when thinking about crowdtasking, was that without harnessing people's "drive to play", it is not gonna work. So these people draw the same conclusion, independently, which corroborates ours.

What about the untapped indie developer resource? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44571643)

Ah! I know this womans name. I saw that TED talk mentioned in this article at least two years ago. It was really powerful. However, the games she has worked on are not at the level of a pro gamer. They are somewhat childish in their approach for the tasks to be completed. She is only attempting to make use of 'gamers' collective gaming hours. However, As a player, there is little feeling of accomplishment or reward. There is no competition between players that would drive them to become a better player at her games. They wouldn't dedicate the hours she imagines towards her projects. But this is exactly why she is approaching that company Blizzard.

  Some years ago, Blizzard created the MMO game World of Warcraft. It's still arguably the best MMO to date. The reason for their success is because Blizzard studied the successful elements of every online game before it, and they put those elements together into their game. The game has changed it's model several times over the years to adapt to the players and new addicting game-elements. It's exactly those elements that Jane McGonigal's games do not have, which makes perfect sense why she is approaching them.

    But I don't imagine that company has as valuable a resource as Jane believes. Given the failure of Diablo 3, Blizzard's interest is in making money at the gamers expense. I don't think that company has what it takes to accomplish anything truly groundbreaking.

  I'm looking forward to see what Jane will work on next. I can only hope it reaches a point where I could contribute or participate in an enjoyable game. What she needs is similar to what I've been creating for a independent Black Jack game. I didn't just make a playable game where you could bet and play cards. I added story, a goal, and other familiar gaming elements that would make the player interested and want to progress to the end. Even if they don't necessarily enjoy Black Jack or Card Games, it's those other addicting and fun elements that turns a simple task into an enjoyable game experience.

  There are thousands of indie developers out there who are good at recycling the successful elements of games that have come before them, and others who are great at creating new concepts. There are thousands of developers who make games every year at conventions and during competitions just to try something new. If Jane McGonigal really wants to make use of the untapped resource that gamers provide. Then take advantage of the independent game developers themselves. Make this a theme for the next Global Game Jam. In a single weekend, there's bound to be a few games that are worth developing further. Games that could help with real-world issues. Games that gamers would be willing to play. It would be far more then Blizzard could ever do.

Dumbest idea I've ever heard... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44571771)

Let me get this straight. They're going to put pictures in MMOG games that you can "process" for experience points?

First problem I noticed is that you assume gamers to be 100% honest/accurate in their "processing", and not just grinding through the interface to get their XP points. And if it's possible to verify the gamer entered in the correct information then you already know the result of the processing, why have gamers re-do the work at all?

I can agree that MMO games are often more work than fun, but really? Next you're going to tell me that businesses can increase work done per employee by making an spreadsheet / accounting software into a MMO, "tricking" them into thinking they're not really working!

To think that Slashdotters really think this could work... my opinion of this sites viewer base has been lowered.

Re:Dumbest idea I've ever heard... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44571777)

Just BTW.

I'm honestly offended by the idea that gamers/westerners are too lazy to do any kind of work, that the only way to get a gamer/westerner off his or her ass is to trick their simplistic minds into thinking they're just advancing their MMO toons. Well, I would be offended, but to honestly hold that world-view you'd have to be a complete idiot yourself.

Re:Dumbest idea I've ever heard... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44571819)

In fact, the proof of that idiocy can be proved by the primices previously laid by the said idiot.

1) Assumes the premise is true: Gamers are too lazy/stupid to help save the human race unless they're fooled into thinking it's part of a video game
2) To be able to theorize that the obvious solution is to get these presumably borderline ape-people to do all of our logistics. We must also assume the second premise is true: Selfish simple minded buffoons to stupid/lazy to take care of their own selves produce scientifically accurate and reliable results.
3) Therefore we can be sure the results of all our decisions will be better than ever before.

Does nobody see a problem with this chain of logic?

The world doesn't need saving (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44571813)

It's been here for billions of years and will be here for billions of years. After that time, it will be destroyed by its own sun. This is not preventable and there is no mitigation. So who cares?

21 billion hours... (1)

eennaarbrak (1089393) | about 8 months ago | (#44571833)

I don't know - I listened to Jane's TED talk and in spite of totally liking the idea, I just don't think her argument is very sound. Take her calculation of 21 billions hours a week - she came upon that number by simply extrapolating it from some historical account, where people in a society (I think it was some ancient Greek region) were asked to play games in order to keep their minds of the fact that they don't have food. Multiply the amount of hours spent by ancient starving Greek with today's population size - bam! 21 billion hours per week!

Ah TED... (1)

korbulon (2792438) | about 8 months ago | (#44571857)

Never fails to remind me of mornings growing up on the farm in Iowa. Golden sunrise peeking over the rolling seas of grass as the last stars of the night bid adieu. The coo of morning doves is a promise of great things to come. And finally... a gentle easterly breeze wafts in the suggestion of sweet perfume that at last gives way to the unmistakable stench of bullshit.

Just smell all that bullshit. Glorious.

Openstreetmap HOT (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44571867)

Posting from work, so no login...

While it's not quite a game, volunteers from Openstreetmap have been helping in various disaster scenarios in the past and present by taking images aerial photography and turning them into usable (and potentially editable) maps for the people on the ground.

Take a look at the OSM HOT project [openstreetmap.org] (especially the effort in Haiti after the earthquake).

Fix it at the source (1)

kbg (241421) | about 8 months ago | (#44572097)

Whenever dealing with incomplete data in software it is always best to try to fix/add the missing data at the earliest time possible. In this case that time is when the photo is taken or uploaded, so the proper solution is to have the social networking software tag the photo by requiring the original photographer/uploader to add the missing data.

Sounds like Matrix (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44572213)

Indeed, it seems more realistic to harvest the computing power of people immersed in a virtual reality rather than their bodily energy (the latter does not make a lot of sense: biomass would be so much more effective).

Given that we have already had a few gaming related deaths, life support systems would make some sense. And once you have them, performance-enhancing drugs are certainly going to quite increase efficiency.

Hogwash (1)

sunking2 (521698) | about 8 months ago | (#44572293)

The efficient way to tackle a problem is to tackle it directly. If you want to save the world get people to stop gaming and actually work to a solution. Creating an escape for people from the real world and then claiming we'll recover some of the lost work in the game so it's a net positive is just silly. It's almost like justifying that i's perfectly ok for kids to skip school on the first day the new COD is released because they have to read the instruction booklet.

ONLY on a voluntary, opt-IN basis. (1)

jcr (53032) | about 8 months ago | (#44572303)

to harness gamers' time

I get really nervous when anyone suggests that other people's time is something to "harness". If they call for volunteers, great. If they try to siphon off any of my time and attention without my consent, then my response is "fuck off, slavers."

-jcr

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