How 911 Operator is Changing the Simulator Genre
Here in the United States, we are regularly drilled in the importance of dialing 9-1-1 in the event of an emergency. It’s a critical resource we learn as children and we carry with us throughout our adult lives. As we grow older, though, we spend less time contemplating the ins and outs of how 911 functions aside from when we need to call upon it for help.
Because of this, many of us are oblivious to just how stressful the average workday is for a 911 dispatcher. Unless, of course, we hold that job ourselves, or know someone who does. To strip it down to the barest of basics, 911 dispatchers are responsible for dispatching ambulances, firefighters, and police toward respective emergencies.
For example, when your home catches fire, 911 is the first call you make in order to stop the blaze. Should your grandparent suffer a stroke, 911 is there to send an ambulance directly to their front door.
There are millions of scenarios in our lives where 911 comes in handy, and without the trained men and women at our local 911 call centers, we’d exist in a permanent state of chaos.
However, being a 911 operator is a bit more complicated than answering and redirecting calls, as Polish indie developer Bartek Gajewski quickly found out.
Addressing how it felt to meet real-life dispatchers in person, Gajewski stated:
“We did a lot of research online talking with real-life dispatchers, but it’s never the same to speak with someone by email or even by Skype than to just meet them in person. To look at their screens, what they do, to see it in reality not from any video, not from any article. I just wanted to have this real impression of their work.”
Upon entering the office building that houses San Francisco’s local 911 call center, developer Bartek Gajewski met with Francis Zamora, director of external affairs for the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management.
“San Francisco takes more than 1.2 million emergency and non-emergency calls each year,”
- Francis Zamora
Gajewski’s game, 911 Operator, really reflects the kind of nail-biting stress that hangs heavy over the heads of each and every employee at your local call center.
“These are not the kind of people you see on TV wearing the uniform,” explains Gajewski. “They’re very common people that do a tremendous job. A really, really exhausting, heavy job to do. And they get no rewards for that, nobody notices that they are there all the time.”
During his visit, Gajewski wanted to try and evaluate how the game fairs in comparison to a real-life 911 call center. Exactly how close does 911 Operator get in terms of realism?
“They [911 dispatchers] knew how to use it, how to take the calls, they actually found the game even more stressful than their job is,” notes Gajewski. “So yeah, I’m very happy.”
“I really hope this game can actually save a life one day. Somebody can say, ‘I knew how to behave in an emergency situation because I played the game.’ This would be an awesome achievement.”
Overall, 911 Operator stands as a testament to years of hard work, dedication, and determination. The game acts as a catalyst to indie developers who are looking to delve into the world of highly realistic simulators. In turn, these games can be used to not only entertain gamers, but to help educate people outside of textbook passages, and even to save lives.