I just watched the TED video by Tom Chatfield regarding 7 ways video games engage the brain [via Productivity Junkies].

Tom covered a few fascinating components that make games successful that could easily be applied to other verticals/industries. I’d encourage you to spend the 16 minutes right now and watch it.

Sorry, this is just my random Sunday evening thought, but the video got me thinking — why has a charity not taken advantage of the gaming concept to raise funds to fight poverty? I’m thinking something along the lines of Civilization or Risk — essentially, a game on a world wide scale that exposes participants to a variety of cultures, hardships, economic factors, professions, and individuals all across the world. Maybe a “Fight Poverty Now” game of sorts that progresses in various ways toward making the world a better place.

An organization like Kiva, Wokai, or Vittana would be a perfect fit or a game like this, since they already have profiles and photos for the vast majority of their clients that could be exposed directly inside the game experience to drive engagement with potential donors. A game setting could increase the engagement potential borrowers have with organizations exponentially. We all know that the more engaged someone is, the more likely they are to donate to a cause or organization — with in person visits being the best indicator of receiving future donations. Even from a marketing and publicity angle alone, building a game that raises funds for microfinance, AIDs, etc would be a win for any established charity.

Even if the game is a social business that just donates X% of their profits to charity, that would be a win in my book. Something is better than nothing.

Is anyone thinking about this? Has anyone already done it? Why don’t a few well funded organizations with synergies band together on a project like this and share in the overhead?

If I could either play Farmville for X hours or play FightPovertyNow for X hours and also raise Y dollars for Kiva in the process? Um, tough one, but I THINK I’d play FightPovertyNow. I hope you would too…

  • Thanks for the link and interesting thought process on applying to charity.

    I could see these ideas, engaging to keep people involved with the charity. Instead of just appealing to their greater good, actually engage them into a game.

    Nice thought Drew!