Many of us guiltily object to being stopped in the streets by representatives from charities who just want a ‘minute of our time.’ Mostly we object because we are busy people with busy lives, we’re on our way to meet someone or late for work, we don’t have a spare minute to make awkward small talk on the pavement with a stranger who wants our money. Many of us have probably also thought at some point, ‘there must be a better way?’ Most of us would like to give to charity, but we want an element of control over the process: who we give to, why we give, how much we give and when we give are all important factors.
Fortunately, social networks and gaming technology are offering an alternative. The Facebook application Causes was launched in May 2007 and since then over $22 million has been donated through the app to 390,000 different causes. Joe Green, the Co-founder and President of Causes had this to say:
“I have learned that everyone has something valuable to contribute towards improving society, but most people have no idea how to get started. The reason for having a democratic society is not only about what gets decided, but how we reach those decisions. The process of grassroots organizing is about building capacity in individuals to come together and take collective action, to take ownership of their society. I founded Causes to help as many people as possible discover the potential within themselves to make a difference.”
With roughly 17 million active monthly users, Causes is making an impact on the online donation front. However, the Causes app can only harness a fraction of the collective Facebook attention span that is commanded by the big social media games. The most popular social games such as Farmville, Bejeweled Blitz, Texas HoldEm, Cafe World and Mafia Wars are played by millions. According to Gamasutra, 61.6 million people have tended a farm on Farmville, and if each of these people spent only 5 minutes per week playing the game, that amounts to 20 million hours of collective game play. Imagine the potential impact that 20 million hours could have upon any cause!
As Derrick Mains the CEO of GreenNurture wrote in an article about ‘Gaming for the Greater Good’ it is up to charities, businesses and games developers to create a culture of gaming which is about improving society and tackling environmental challenges. If we can harness the collective intelligence, time and wallets of social gamers to solve problems, raise money, promote sustainable and peaceful living by creating games for good, then we are making a step in the right direction. We will no longer be paying a couple of quid a month to a charity because we feel obliged to, but instead giving money, making decisions and enjoying rewards, because we want to!
Here at Digital 2.0 we are doing our bit to raise awareness of the impact deforestation has upon our planet and how sustainability and biodiversity can help reverse the damage mankind has done. Our WeForest game launches at the end of October and all profits go towards charity, so you can know that you’re doing good whilst you play!
More info on WeForest here: http://gamesforgood.wordpress.com/2010/08/24/weforest-update/ and here http://www.digital2point0.com/projects/weforest/
Read more about Causes here: http://exchange.causes.com/about/
Read Derrick Mains’ article here: http://www.triplepundit.com/2010/08/how-social-gaming-can-advance-sustainability/