Gamers and game developers now have another opportunity to make a difference in the lives of real-world people as well as those in their favorite MMOs: The newly-organized Internet Response League (IRL) wants to connect people to humanitarian crises worldwide by developing plug-ins that work within games themselves. For example, a player who sees a disaster alert while playing “World of Warcraft” and wants to help would click on the link, which would then give them a short and simple but necessary task, such as geotagging tweeted pictures of the disaster site.
What’s the Big Idea?
The concept grew from a 2010 TED talk given by gaming researcher Jane McGonigal, who suggested that the billions of hours spent on gaming could someday be used for real-world problem-solving. IRL founder Patrick Meier notes that going to gamers where they live, so to speak, would allow them to participate in a kind of “digital humanitarianism” and hopefully become invested enough to continue their assistance. Additional motivation could come in the form of in-game perks, such as special armor or banners for players’ virtual characters.