Games Can Fuel Social Change

Videogames can provide new and effective ways to raise awareness and engage users, prompting an article that asks whether they might be the future of social change.

A piece on builds its case around a successful promotion put on by Zynga’s social game FarmVille, which allowed the game’s players to buy special seeds to benefit Haitian charities. The Sweet Seeds for Haiti drive ended up raising over $1.0 million dollars.

The article compares Zynga’s successful implementation to one that is more old-school:

…a consortium of foundations and online giving platforms were sponsoring America’s Giving Challenge, which put up almost $250,000 in bounty for nonprofits to engage their supporters. In a month, almost 8,000 competing nonprofits raised a total of just over $2 million. One of the biggest pushes in our field basically had the same level of return as releasing a virtual freaking seed.

If that doesn’t raise some eyebrows, it should.

While contributing to social change is good and all, the author worries a bit about “videogame-embedded philanthropy” taking the place of real-world positive actions, though he views it as an opportunity for non-profits:

I worry a bit that for those whose first taste of good is this sort of video game embedded philanthropy, they will feel like their experience of having contributed is good enough. That the input of buying a charitable good equals an output of feeling and having done good, and that is that. Of course where the real opportunity lies is in the conversion of those passive supporters to active users. That may be a great place for creative nonprofits to focus next.

Zynga’s Mark Pincus thinks that the future charitable virtual goods market could be worth a billion dollars.

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  1. 0
    jedidethfreak says:

    I would think that PennyArcade’s Child’s Play charity drives are a better example of enacting social change than anything Zynga could pull off.  Granted, it’s a bit more abstract as a social change mechanism, as people would have to realize that hospitals, with ever-decreasing budgets, are being forced to cut things to make a patient’s hospital stay more bearable, but PA isn’t being sued, either.

    You KILL Vampires. You don’t DATE them.

  2. 0
    DarkSaber says:

    A true philanthropist. /sarcasm

    He’s nothing more than one of these people who ride in on the back of causes and charities to make money out of peoples good will.


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  3. 0
    DarkSaber says:

    Not to mention its chairman is on record proudly boasting at how he takes money to push scams, malware, scare-ware and other shit onto his players through those "special offers" the games provide to earn more gamepoints.


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  4. 0
    Valdearg says:

    Isn’t Zynga the target of a class action lawsuit for unethical business practices? Hardly the kind of company we want to push the whole "Games can benifit Humanity" angle, if you ask me.

  5. 0
    DarkSaber says:

    "Zynga’s Mark Pincus thinks that the future charitable virtual goods market could be worth a billion dollars."

    And I bet he loves the idea of skimming a percentage of it for his company to cover "expenses".


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  6. 0
    ZippyDSMlee says:

    Like any other medium I guess it can change society…. but really…… society in whole or part uses it to change….or brow beat other parts into the light……

    Until lobbying is a hanging offense I choose anarchy! CP/IP laws should not effect the daily life of common people!

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