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New York State Testing Emergency Alerts Over Gaming Networks 212

Posted by timothy
from the ideas-can-be-both-good-and-creepy dept.
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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New York State Testing Emergency Alerts Over Gaming Networks

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  • by omnichad (1198475) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @04:54PM (#30163110) Homepage

    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: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Opt-In SMS alerts for NY are available here:

      http://www.nyalert.gov

  • 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.

  • 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 a

    • 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?

      • 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.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mortonda (5175)

      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...

      How about when there was a tornado warning around here and just as I was updating the radar that would tell me approximately where it is, the Emergency Broadcast System cut in on the cable TV and dropped my Internet like a brick. Thanks for nothing, EBS.

  • by iamacat (583406) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @04:59PM (#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: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by gilbert644 (1515625)
      Most console gamers aren't children and this stuff is for their benefit.
    • by Blakey Rat (99501) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @05:36PM (#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.

      • by mmalove (919245)

        I think the scare is that, upon seeing enough tests or real notifications of emergencies, a child may be more likely to perceive an in-game alert/scenario as real.

        This will only be compounded by the fact that video game makers somehow insist on the doctrine of realism, so once we get a standardized alert message/sound/format you bet your ass they'll copy it as close as legally possible for in game alerts.

    • the previous post was a poorly constructed troll

      all you kiddies can get back to sims 3 and relax

      GOVERNMENT OUT

  • 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 channe

    • by blueg3 (192743)

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

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Rockoon (1252108)
        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.

        • by blueg3 (192743)

          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.

          • by Rockoon (1252108)
            Derided or not..

            Millions of people surely saw or heard the message. Not one of them verified their suspicions that the evacuation order was bullshit by calling the State Police?

            It doesn't get any more sobering than this. The people of the State of Connecticut will not be paying attention to emergency alerts piped through their Wii's and XBOX's.
  • Warning! (Score:5, Funny)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @05:00PM (#30163250) Journal

    Warning... Valkyrie needs food badly!

  • 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.

  • by Provocateur (133110) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @05:07PM (#30163412) Homepage

    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

  • by barzok (26681)

    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.

  • 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.
    • 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, t
      • by jgtg32a (1173373)
        This is off topic but it would be really funny if there was an Eternal Darkness port to the 360 that fakes a RROD
        • It wouldn't just be funny. It'd be the logical thing for them to do should it ever get ported!
  • 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.
  • by JustNiz (692889)

    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 mo

  • 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

  • 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...

  • 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
    • by blueg3 (192743)

      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.

  • The EAS is already a joke. Here in CA, you may have your TV or radio programming interrupted to inform you of an emergency in an area that is nowhere near you. I'm on the coast in Monterey County, so a flooding alert for Santa Cruz is just going to piss me off and give me reason to ignore alerts.

    The only thing this is going to do is piss off a lot of people and reduce awareness. People will start ignoring alerts when their games are interrupted for emergency alerts that do not affect them. And, if there act

  • from in-game content.

    If I'm playing Starcraft II online, I don't want to hear "Nuclear launch detected!" and wonder if I should be spamming my Orbital Command scanner sweeps looking for stealthed Ghosts or maybe just duck and cover IRL.

    • by Aphoxema (1088507) *

      Yeah, it's not a bad idea at all but I know when I really get into a game I get pretty oblivious to reality.

      "This is really a real alert. This will really effect you. You may die if you do not stop playing this game and pay attention to the tornado outside your house."

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