Everyday around 2.5 billion people are playing games around the world. They are spending around 6 hours a week playing on their phones, computers, and other devices. Surprisingly, playing games actually has many positive benefits for individuals and nonprofits alike.
As you continue reading further, you’ll explore 7 ways games are being used to support personal, social, and community change.
1. Game-Based Learning
Imagine being able to learn about climate change, animal cruelty, or even your own nonprofit cause through a game. As you play and beat levels you’d uncover various facts, participate in learning activities, and at times, perform real-world actions. The idea behind these so-called Serious Games is to give learners (players) a fun way to help focus while learning; ultimately resulting in better memory retention. One of the largest communities for Serious Games is known as GamesforChange.org which is curating a free 3-day virtual festival starting July 14th to showcase games that drive real-world impact.
2. Community Bonding
When you think about games it is likely you envision people staring at their screens for hours on end all by themselves, right? Wrong. Remember, some 2.5 billion people play games nearly everyday. Most play with others. As it turns out, research, yes research is starting to show that games support community bonding.
In games, people are getting a sense of autonomy, community, and contribution. They make decisions about how to cooperate with others, while identifying with like-minded individuals. What’s cool, gamers are more likely than those who don’t play to try nearly anything to overcome a challenge. Let’s face it, failure is inevitable in games, yet they’re intentionally designed to ensure you that if you give a little more effort, you’ll achieve greatness. And when you join with other players, you build trust and a sense of teamwork to do anything possible to level up together.
3. Generate New Supporters
Games are becoming a tool to help nonprofits reach new supporters. Think of it like a referral program where you gain perks by getting others to sign up. Many games give players additional points or achievements based on inviting others to participate.
Take FunFunding, that supports nonprofits with prize donations through free to play online tournaments. Anyone can create a team, and play for whatever nonprofit they want; even their own. You invite friends, members (really whoever you want) to join your team by sharing a play link on social media, in emails, or even texts. People automatically join and start playing to earn points for your team. Since the highest scoring teams win prize donations, players are encouraged to invite others to join which results in new people learning about that team’s nonprofit. The more people invited to come and play, the more people who can become new supporters of your nonprofit.
4. Charity Streamers
You might already know, everyday there are over one billion people who watch YouTube. But I bet you didn’t know that 350 million watch eSports i.e. livestream gamers. There are esports teams, game influencers, and organizations that run charity streams where their fans donate while they play. In 2018, charity streamers rallied roughly $40 million in donations. And listen to this - last year ExtraLife, who runs a 24 hour game marathon, brought 50,000 gamers together and raised $14 million for charity. Or PewDiePie, the largest game influencer with 105M followers raised $106,000 for #BlackLivesMatter with his fans on June 6th. This is a community of people who care and act, and the esports industry is only going to grow.
5. Civic Engagement
Due to the learning and cooperative elements of games, by now it shouldn’t surprise you that games also support civic engagement. Research conducted by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) demonstrates how video games can be used for conflict resolution and understanding around the world. Additionally, research by Professor Bers of Tufts University shows that video games promote civic outcomes - translating into people helping each other, exploring social or moral issues, and making decisions about how a community/nation could be run. What’s more, Pew Internet and American Life project reported that 44% of youth play games that teach about a societal problem and 52% play games that cause players to think about moral and ethical issues. Now that’s entertainment for impact.
Ever try to learn a new language, get out and volunteer more, or form a daily habit like meditation or exercise with no one but yourself to keep you accountable? Likely this was very challenging, right? The reason is because our brains are naturally resistant to change (even positive change) so doing a new action/activity is an actual challenge. Gamified programs are made to help motivate behavior change and get people more involved in doing positive activities for themselves and others. One example, Pain Squad, motivates kids with cancer to report their pain through an app that sends them on missions of “catching the pain” which has resulted in improved administration of medication. Another is CharityMiles where you earn donations for charity for every mile you bike, run, and walk. And there are so many others out there using gamification to drive real world action.
7. Social Engagement
If you made it this far you must be excited about what the future of nonprofit gaming will look like. In April alone, there was a 50% increase in viewership on Twitch (where gamers live stream while playing) to a record 1.49 billion hours. During this time of sheltering at home, gaming offers an engaging way for people to sustain social interaction. The best part is, millions in charitable pledges have been donated. The World Health Organization even got involved with #PlayAPartTogether where many game companies around the world joined in a campaign of support: Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard said “It’s never been more critical to ensure people stay safely connected to one another. Games are the perfect platform because they connect people through the lens of joy, purpose and meaning.” Games give us hope for the future of the nonprofit sector and show us the beautiful community of people who care and act. Play on!
If you need additional assistance or have a question, please reach out to Corey Harnish at firstname.lastname@example.org or at https://www.funfunding.org/ to learn more about this space and what might best align with your nonprofit’s focus and needs.