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Who Has Time For Games, Anyway?

July 12th, 2010

Admit it.  When you hear the phrase computer games, you picture teenage boys wasting hours in front of a computer screen, or possibly on their handheld devices.  Like everything else, though, this landscape is also changing.

Social media is something that most non profits – and corporations – now realize cannot be ignored.  We’re all roaming around in the dark, however, essentially bumping into walls, trying to figure out what works best.  Social media is simply too new for anyone to be an expert yet.  One thing that is clear, though, is the importance of social in social media.  People want and need to be engaged when they visit your blog, website, Facebook page, etc.

One successful way of doing this that some organizations have found is through games.  Think of it as conducting a mini special event online – and remember the necessary ingredients:  Does it entertain?  Does it have an educational component about your organization and its mission?  Does it have a means of follow up and/or donation available (depending on the purpose of the event)?

Several savvy non profits have entered this realm, both engaging and entertaining their constituents, and benefiting from the repeat messaging of their brand at the same time.

●   Free Rice
●   Against All Odds
●   Nothing But Nets

Games for Change is a non-profit that designs video games addressing various issues, including poverty, education, human rights, global conflict and climate change.

Consider the vast market penetration of video games when you look at Mafia Wars and Farmville, for example.  Then take a look at a more educational version of a game like 3rd World Farmer and how it could be used as a promotional tool.

The game Peacemaker, designed by Asi Burak, is a depiction of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in which the player’s goal is to reach peace rather than wage war.  The player can choose to be the leader of either side and must maintain watch over a variety of situations which can escalate constantly.  Peacemaker has won several international awards.

Just as teachers and professors are instructing students in a more engaging way, so must non profits turn to the web, video, social media and yes – games as interactive tools for better messaging.

How would you be better able to explain the mission of your organization and what your funds raised actually accomplish with an online game that people could play?

Games aren’t just for children anymore.

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Keep the base of the pyramid strong

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