Altruistic Gaming

Posted on May 22, 2012 in Volunteerism

By Vishakh Unnikrishnan:

Gaming has always been considered as just a means of entertainment in today’s generation, but this notion is gradually changing among people in the modern society, through more of social gaming. What is regarded as soon to be the most primitive form of entertainment, video games has had an amazing history throughout and can be praised more for it perks than be criticized for its defects.

Social gaming has gone a long way since the success of a game called ‘club penguin’ in miniclip.com. The basic reason for social gaming to turn into such a mainstream success is because people began to appreciate and enjoy the company of other gamers more than artificial intelligence. Social gaming was adopted by many websites and social networking sites in the last 5 years. This trend has led to a huge investment in the industry. Rarely does one, especially a gamer, acknowledge or even ponder about the idea of using games for philanthropic or beneficent purposes. The New York-based gaming advocate and non-profit organization Games for Change (G4C) has been supporting the creation of social impact games since 2004, and is focused on games for government agencies and NGOs, such as NASA and the U.N., as well as corporations that have a vested interest in teaching their employees how to find solutions for political, social, and financial issues.

The organization also can regard any game under the ‘games for change’ category if it meets with the organization ideals. The primary motive of the organization is to try and juxtapose gaming and education, and has met with ample amount of positive response. The idea seems plausible, after the success of the critically appreciated game Portal, developed by Valve, as a game which helped students learn and understand simple physics terms like momentum, and energy conservation. Through virtual visible application, students tend to grasp the logic behind most theories and are easily able to interpret them. The serial entrepreneur and founder of Atari, Nolan Bushnell states that “Kids don’t like to learn abstract things out of context. A video game presents that context in a very serious way. The reality is that today’s children have different brains than years and years ago. Brains are very plastic and conform to the types of structures that they’re placed in.” Other than for education purposes social gaming has helped the society in various altruistic ways. The game WeTopia is a new online social game designed to raise money for children’s charities in the real world. In the game, players can help raise money for various aid programs, by viewing sponsor ads. Sponsors then make donations to non-profits that provide basic needs, healthcare, and education in the real world. Although Games for change predicts that only a fraction of the money goes for aid, the parent studio company ‘Sojo’ claims that 50% of net profits will be donated to its charity beneficiaries. Business minded entrepreneurs also haven’t ignored the benefits of social gaming. IBM released CityOne, an online game that challenges players to make city energy systems more efficient and sustainable. Through solving real world issues, like water scarcity, alternative power resources etc. the game tries encourage industries to implement them in the real world. With Gaming reaching out into almost every sphere possible, it is clear that the notion of gaming being a source of mindless entertainment, can be considered pure applesauce.

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