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Games Entertainment

Serious Game May Help Track Missing Kids 22

GameSpot reports on a title announced at this year's Women Games conference. A University of East London project called Lost and Found may bring some sense of social responsibility to gamers when it is eventually rolled out to cell phones. Much like PeaceBomb , the game envisioned by Harvey Smith at the 2006 Game Designer's Challenge, Lost and Found will try to assist gamers in finding missing people via smart-mob activities. "Users can, for example, sign up for alerts when someone goes missing in their area, and if they see someone who resembles a photo of a missing child, take a photo, which will alert authorities to the possibility that an abducted child is nearby. The game will also present people with a series of objectives and mobilize groups to block roads and search fields."
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Serious Game May Help Track Missing Kids

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  • Roadblocks?! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Perseid ( 660451 ) on Sunday April 22, 2007 @01:24AM (#18829687)
    Am I the only one who sees bad things coming out of bored college students setting up roadblocks?
  • what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TinBromide ( 921574 ) on Sunday April 22, 2007 @01:38AM (#18829753)
    Now this seems kind of strange to me because i don't stand in front of government buildings waving signs with slogans that people read then disregard, but how is this a "game"? Do you get points for finding people? "I'm a level 12 findomancer!"

    While I appreciate the idea, i don't see many people dropping what they're doing to trek across town look for someone.

    Now there could be a downside with the kidnapper getting the "game" and then avoiding the areas spotlighted by the search area and knowing precisely how fast it took authorities to realize that the kid was missing.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Hmm...I can see it now...

      Lvl 30 Finder with max Roadblocking, Alerting and a +10 Standing with police for sale, 10,000 dollars and you too can have a maxed out character!

      As for why it's being called a game the article itself says that
      "If it's a project that sounds worthy, or that there are cops involved, or that you have to hand over personal data, people aren't interested. But if we let them use an avatar, they're ok with that." The Web site adds, "Participants can see their own input... achieving success
    • Actually it would be incredibly difficult for such a person to avoid police, avoid detection, and at the same time "play a game." I mean how many of those things can you do?
    • In Soviet Union, missing children find you. So if I just send my kid sister to go play outside unsupervised, how many points do I get for 'finding' her?
  • ... but it probably won't be. Another one of those "works great in theory" ideas.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by dosboot ( 973832 )
      Yea, not only do generally avoid looking at other people on the street I also don't see myself taking their pictures. Who wants to be stopped and harassed for taking pictures of other people (even if you have every right to)?

      "Sorry you just look like someone the police are trying to find. One sec, I'm sending them your picture and location right now. Well, see ya!"
    • by HTH NE1 ( 675604 )
      At a Radio Shack yesterday I saw they had signs up offering people the ability to sign up to receive AMBER Alerts [] (a.k.a. Levi's Call, Maile Amber Alert, and Morgan Nick Amber Alert []) on their cell phones.

      It's here already.
  • Great now I can go hide and just send a text a people have to try find me. I'll have TV crews and reporters come too. Sweet. What kind of disguises can I use.

    What Laws would I be breaking. "Pretending to be missing, Felony 1"

    Lost: Level 24 bar-room skulker. Blue coat with orange hat. Coat says "Barf y2k" on the back.
    Lost: Level 2 Teen. Black hair, black clothes, black nails, black lipstick, black eyeshadow, black eyeliner, black mascara, white face. Answers to no name at all. Length of disappearance: Unknow
  • by Lurker2288 ( 995635 ) on Sunday April 22, 2007 @02:12AM (#18829921)
    I'm all for social consciousness, but take a look at any internet message board and get a sense of how many people post stupid crap just for the sake of a laugh. Combine that with a system for tracking lost kids and you get, oh, probably about a million pictures sent in of people's asses, or similar nonsense. And do we really want to empower mobs of people to block roads, or swarm public places on the chance that maybe somebody actually spotted a snatched kid? This sounds like a lawsuit waiting to happen.
    • by dajak ( 662256 )
      Here in the Netherlands it is already established that a flashmob that intentionally blocks a road is in principle a criminal organization, with the people who show up and participate as its members. Good chance that the courts will feel that given the choice between a) informing the authorities and b) organizing a mob to block roads, option b is a really bad choice and not an excuse for knowingly disturbing public order.
  • Sounds like infrastructure for fugitive alerts. Yay.
  • So how many points do I get for finding a missing child?

    It better be millions because the chance of me finding a real world lost child is near zero.

    The creator claims that this is a game because they "use an avatar". That's not a game, that's a UI.
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Sunday April 22, 2007 @05:23AM (#18830625) Homepage

    The red state version of this would be Helio's "Buddy Beacon" for NRA members. If you're in trouble, you punch the panic button on your cell phone, and all NRA members within a mile or so get an alert. In two minutes there's enough firepower on site for a small war.

  • You probably don't want people able to report a suspected missing child too casually.

    The base rate fallacy guarantees most reports of missing children are going to be false alarms. (Look at the number of children, vs. the number of missing children). If you make this reporting too easy, then the authorities can get swamped chasing down the false leads.

    On the other hand, if several different people (known to not be sock-puppets of one another, or closely related) were to report a suspected missing child

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