Social games for a social change

Social games being used as medium for creating social awareness and social activism, is a global phenomenon which is fast catching on. The latest initiative that might interest you, is Points for Pakistan campaign, launched to educate the users of social games, virtual worlds and social media websites, which talks about the disaster caused by floods that has rendered more than 20 million people injured or homeless. The initiative facilitates donating funds for humanitarian relief.

Points for Pakistan targets more than 200 million active monthly users on a dozen of leading technology companies including IMVU, RockYou, Playspan, Playdom,Blue Frog Gaming,Fish Wrangler etc. The users earn credits or virtual goods by participating in a Peanut Labs online survey, that asks them how familiar they are with the floods that occurred during the summers and directs them to donate to Points for Pakistan aid program. This program is being administered by the American Red Cross, Oxfam America and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees flood relief programs.

Social Activism is not new

  • In 2006, MTV launched the viral video game ‘Darfur is Dying’ on its website, that provides a window into the experience of the 2.5 million refugees in the Darfur region of Sudan. The objective was simple, to let people learn more about the genocide in Darfur, that has taken the lives of 4,00,000 people and find ways to stop this humanitarian crisis.
  • The Time Magazine in the article “Can Video Games Save The World?” shares a lot of interesting pieces of news which highlights the growing trend.
  • One of the leading examples of the growing power of social gaming would be, Zynga’s experiments to amalgamate philanthropy with the Facebook game “Farmville”. The Facebook game raised $8,00,000 for charity by selling virtual special type of sweet potato seed in just two weeks and promised gamers that 50% of the revenue would go to two charities in Haiti. Zynga.org is also building a new school which focuses on education and the future of  the children of Mirebalais, Haiti.

The Indian Scenario

In India, social gaming is now increasingly finding usage in creating social awareness too -

  • The social games now are increasingly based out of a lethal combination of mobile phones and social networks.
  • The use of mobile and social networks as a social consciousness generation tool is quiet effective, since it has a multiplier effect.
  • With more people using cell phones, social gaming is on a rise. Messaging and relaying content is much easier.
  • Social games through mobiles transcend the rural-urban divide. For example ZMQ software systems has come up with a large number of mobile games that guide and inform people on HIV aids, climate change, prenatal care and millennium development goals.
  • Reliance Infocomm made another pioneering initiative by increasing social consciousness on AIDS Awareness through games like Health Mela, Safety Cricket and Ribbon Chase.
  • Games such as “connect2climate”,”Energy expo” and “Mission Enlighten” are increasingly used to create awareness on climate change.
  • ‘Millenium Development goals chaser’ was developed to alert the government as well as the people on the millennium development goals.
  • Millee is another inspiring project that uses mobile gaming technology to enhance awareness about the importance of literacy among school-going children.

One of the major problems that ailed the non-profit organizations was that they could harness only a percentage of supporters but could never really manage to captivate the imagination of masses to convert it into a mass movement.

Social games can now change the scenario owing to user generated content and interconnection with social networks like Facebook and Twitter, making it easier for people to share their passion with their peers.

Note: This post is part of our Student Series that will feature perspectives from students across management institutes on Social Media

Views of authors are personal, and do not represent views of IndiaSocial or its partners.