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Harnessing the problem-solving power of online gamers


Online gaming is a huge pit of untapped potential, according to the co-founders of the Internet Response League, Patrick Meier and Peter Mosur. This snappily-named group aims to use the power of the vast online audience of games like WoW to help the world out in the event of disaster.

Their initial idea is to harness things like WoW's Breaking News screen on login, or indeed to invade the game with quest text, asking players to look at images and rate them according to their severity on a grading scale. As they put it on their blog:
First, the moment that a disaster strikes, everyone currently playing the game and those logging on from that point on will receive notification of the event. Only users who have opted in to receive these "alerts" will see them. The message will give a brief description of what has happened, and will ask players to help out with the tagging.
Accepting this invitation will take players to "disaster tagging area" (screen). People will be able to tag as many pictures as they like and exit back to the game as they please... The tagging data will be sent to IRL and be used to create a live crisis map of disaster damage for disaster responders.

So gamers really could be used to save the world. Jane McGonigal, internet gaming advocate, appreciates the idea, saying that the engagement of gamers within their favorite games is a far smarter idea than attempting to draw them out of those games into the real world. And if you could earn lesser charms by grading pictures, and save lives at the same time, wouldn't you? It's certainly refreshing to see some positive press for the power of online gamers, for a change. What do you think of the system? Do you want to be part of the Internet Response League?

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