Tech Empowerment: Gaming for Good
By Jade French | Brand Editor
We talk a lot about corporate responsibility in our industry, in fact we already wrote a whole blog post on it, but what about sectors that are seemingly individualist? Arguably, the gaming industry is about individual consumers engaging with a product. Even in a multi-player game or VR experience, there’s an element of solitariness. However, we’ve seen a surge in charities gamifying their messages, and gaming getting more charitable. So, can we use tech for good? And what might that look like?
Gaming for GoodA literal example of this phenomenon is Belgian gamer Athene’s project Gaming for Good. He uses his YouTube channel to raise money for charity. Recognising that some fundraising is unsustainable (you can only grow one mustache or shave one head), he began tapping into the money stream generated by gamers. On live streams like Twitch, Athene has an instant way to communicate with his fans, who often send in donations to the gamer to support their streams. And it works! Athene has raised $22m for Save the Children and signed up 2500 gamers to his ‘Gaming for Good’ organisation.
Can charities tap into this instant access philanthropy? We tend to swerve those fundraisers in the street. We found, through our work with Shelter and Christian Aid, that the best way to engage people is to create content that resonates with them. To speak on a potential donators level, rather than talking down at them. Tapping into the gamer mentality seems like a logical jump.
Last year, Playmob developed an incentives and reward mechanic to encourage charitable donations. They work with app, software and game developers so that in-play spend is directed towards charity. They saw $84k raised through Angry Birds for Room to Read and players of Runescape were encouraged to raise money for Oxfam. They also link their projects, so the game High School Story was mobilized to raise money for a CyberBulling awareness campaign.
Tech for good
The tech sector more generally, as it grows, is taking on more social responsibility. The emerging skill-set the average developer has can actually be used to change the world.
Although some tech companies are obsessed with being the next ‘unicorn’, others are using UX development and app creation for good. In particular, the ‘hackathon’ is providing a great model for doing good. With its emphasis on thinking outside the box and disrupting the usual routes to find new solutions. There’s lots of spaces for this type of development: Hack for Health, Random Hacks of Kindness, Hack for Good being just a few.
A group of coders, designers, NGOs and academics come together under the umbrella of Empowerhack – working together to develop technology that can inform and educate female refugees of all ages. Then there’s also women Hack for Non-Profit organise a beginner coding workshop in Ruby and HTML for those interested in helping from a non-tech background. This skill-sharing and commitment to open-source development is key to how hackathons works. Each solution Empowerhack come up with is also linked to an NGO that is willing to back and use the technology that's created. Most of the projects take existing ideas and designs and rework them for a different audience.