Games for Change is Changing
“By weaving gaming, marketing and social entrepreneurship, a new form of journalism has emerged with the power to connect, educate, and activate a mass audience.”
The nonprofit Games for Change (G4C) is expanding from influential industry festival organizer to a multi-service organization with the ability to raise the social gaming industry standard. Its mission: to harness the extraordinary power of digital games to address the most pressing issues of our day, including poverty, education, human rights, global conflict and climate change.
Two recent behavior shifts are positively impacting the social gaming industry. First, the public increasingly understands the connection between digital games and societal impact. Secondly, games like Zynga’s Farmville have proven consumer interest in engaging in digital media on a daily basis, and in paying money for virtual status-generating incentives.
To capture the potential behind these behavioral shifts, G4C recently hired Co-Presidents Asi Burak and Michelle Byrd, both of whom have deep expertise in media for social change and in scaling nonprofit organizations. Mr. Burak will lead curation, development, and execution of G4C programs, while Ms. Byrd will lead the institutional relationship and partnership development, among other responsibilities.
What G4C does, in a nutshell:
The 7th annual Games for Change Annual Festival in New York brought together over 600 nonprofits, experts, students, and game developers to explore the increasing real-world impact of digital games as an agent for social change. The Festival also showcases innovative new games in development.
The new Consulting and Producing Services Group works with individuals and organizations that are interested in computer and video games to further their public, philanthropic or academic interests. The comprehensive suite of services includes industry orientation, conceptualization, vendor-selection and production.
Chevron’s Energyville is an excellent example of how a company can educate potential customers and stakeholders on an industry or societal issues. IBM has also recently launched the SimCity-style CityOne, a new "serious game" that helps customers, partners and students discover how to make cities smarter by solving real-world business, environmental and logistical problems.
We also like Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s iCivics website, a resource for educators and parents that teaches about the Constitution, Bill of Rights and the three branches of government through free online game play.
General Mills’ Cascadian Farm uses Farmville to educate potential customers on their product. Users can learn about organic farming and green living by planting free branded Cascadian blueberries, while also earning points. How can your brand build a relationship with consumers through a direct virtual experience?
G4C is currently working with New York Times columnist Nick Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn to bring their Half the Sky book and its movement to emancipate women to a mass audience by repurposing content for video games.
After the earthquake in Haiti, FarmVille, FishVille, Mafia Wars and Zynga Poker raised $1.5 million for relief by selling virtual goods within the games. How can your brand incentivize customers to pay real world money for cause marketing campaigns?
Some other suggestions on how social gaming can further your company’s cause marketing strategy:
- Take a physical convening into a virtual space
- Reach out to your brand’s illiterate customers through easily understandable and engaging media
- Work with G4C’s regional offices to develop local culturally-customized solutions