A couple of weeks ago Asi Burak, the President of Games for Change, dropped by the Ad Council to talk to us about the growing community of educators, non-profits and developers who create games for social good. He challenged and inspired us to think beyond websites for campaigns: to give games a chance to make a lasting change in the social marketing world. The key takeaway was that in addition to their entertainment value, games can educate, change perceptions and heal.
Video games have become a $66 billion industry, and social marketers should take advantage of their popularity. With a smartphone in nearly every pocket, and the population of gamers growing older and more diverse (according to ESA the average gamer is now 31 years old and women make up 48 percent of all gamers), there is a great opportunity to further your cause by creating a game around it.
Here are some examples of “games for social good” that will hopefully inspire you to create a game to promote your message or cause.
This game is aimed at young cancer patients to teach them through play what each treatment does to the cancer; the result was higher adherence to treatment and greater knowledge about different cancer treatments among players. When doing research on the game, the 10th International Congress of Behavioral Medicine found that several brain regions including emotion, motivation, learning and memory were activated.
The game’s goal is to raise donations for and awareness of women’s issues around the world. Since its launch it’s been doing just that, with almost three million unique visitors, average sessions lasting over 14 minutes and over half a billion dollars in total donations raised. Players were likely to share the game and loved being able to do “good” while being entertained.
The game simulates how the world seems to children with autism; it has found many fans among those with autistic family members or friends. It has hundreds of thousands of game plays, and it has been updated with new environments and other medical disabilities, with teachers, schools and users demanding more updates.
We can’t do a post on games for social good and not mention “Free Rice,” the game released by the World Food Programme (WFP) in 2007. The game serves up multiple choice questions based on the selected subject and for every question the player gets right, 10 grains of are donated to the WFP. Since 2007, the game collected 100 billion grains of rice, enough to feed 1.5 million people for a day.
For more examples of games for social good, visit http://www.gamesforchange.org/play.
If you are interested in reading further about creative ways gaming is used for education and social change along with some science to back it up, here are a few interesting resources:
• Disruptions: Minecraft, an Obsession and an Educational Tool
• Gaming improves multitasking skills: Study reveals plasticity in age-related cognitive decline
• TED: Daphne Bavalier: Your brain on video games