Lots of people in the United States and around the world are avid players of online games. Most of the time, these games are played for fun and sometimes to “crush the competition.”

Now, we are seeing that gaming may also be a mechanism for getting players involved in social causes.

Consider these observations from Aaron Baar, writing for JWT Intelligence:

“Perhaps you’d feel differently about your Candy Crush addiction if you knew something useful could come out of it. Welcome to the burgeoning world of Gaming for Good. The concept has been around for a while: Vocabulary builder Freerice.com, for instance, launched in 2007 with the promise that 10 grains of rice would be donated for every correct answer (the site was later donated to the U.N.’s World Food Programme, which now runs it). Now, a range of models is proliferating that use gaming as an engine for good or, alternatively, motivate good works by way of gamification.”

Click the image to look at a video clip.


28 Replies to “Doing Good by Playing Online Games? Really?”

  1. I think it is great that online games are used for good causes. It helps non-for-profits generate revenue, and it also helps people access free games. I can’t really think of any downsides to using games for good causes. People are going to play games online no matter what. So why not help a cause while they do?

  2. I’ve never thought of any online games as anything but an escape when I’m bored. It’s never occurred to me that they could serve as beneficial. I also think that if more people knew about these “good cause” games, more people would play them. If these creators want to make a difference then I don’t see anything wrong with making these online games.

  3. I think this is a great idea. We all love playing games online and on our phones, so if an organization is turning it into a good cause, then great! I don’t think this is a negative thing because people play games everyday, so at least this will turn it into something productive. We can help someone with a good cause, plus we get fun games. This is a great way to incorporate an everyday activity with helping others.

  4. I think this is an amazing idea that a game that people around the world play for fun can also be used to help people in need. I don’t know anyone that doesn’t like playing games on their mobile devices or their computers, so can be a quick and fun way of donating. This is a very unique venue adding new opportunities for charitable donations. With no down-sides, this is a very interesting way of donating to charity.

  5. This is a very cool idea. I think how to apply this idea to various online game is a problem that is worth of explore since most online games are created to make money. How to negotiate with game companies and ask them to give up a portion of profit and give those profit to people who are in need? I mean, people play online games because those games are fun to play. If games were purely made to help some people, then it would have to be less fun to play.

  6. This article is another example of social responsibility, it is a great way for these online games to gain more users while also positively impacting the community. Consumers are more likely to participate in such a game if there participation means that they are making the world a better place.

  7. I don’t really see anything wrong with these online games, other than the addiction taking away from the important things in life. They are mindless games only meant to be taken lightly. I do however like the fact that these games are being put to good use. Now we can enjoy these games more knowing that they are going towards a good cause, rather than just for our own personal enjoyment.

  8. Speaking for myself, I find no problem in playing games that actually help a person to learn something new. I have used Freerice many times. Most of the time it was my way of trying to do well for other people even though I never actually saw the help being given. I personally think it depends on the user to decided what type of games to play. I believe it is healthy to us time for a site dedicated to help, such as Freerice, and also to play games that are just for an entertainment value. Maybe turning games into a source to help others and develop ones mind is the future of our generations way to help out.

  9. I don’t think that there is such a thing as “gaming for good.” I think that in the case of the game that is now owned by the UN, that is a different story. However, I am not convinced that games like Candy Crush are useful. For example, I play Candy Crush in my globalization in food studies class every Tuesday and Thursday when the teacher is out of the room. I do not believe there is any EDUCATIONAL value to playing video games.

  10. I think that these “games for good” are incredible ways to affect social change and have fun! Before I watched this video clip, I did not know that there were companies who were devoted to global gaming initiatives. The impact of these games on social change would be much greater if the word was spread more. People play games online and on their mobile devices regularly and it would be great if they could give to others in small increments while doing this. I don’t really see a negative side to these global games because they don’t really impact performance, but impact motivation. Therefore, people who play games for fun would continue to do so, but would be benefiting others in the process. Additionally, people who aren’t as apt to participate in online gaming might want to if they know there is a way they can help improve the lives of others.

  11. Wow! This is a great idea. It definitely appeals to the kids younger generation who are constantly playing games on their phones anyway. By combining “doing good” and having “fun”, we are encouraged to good with the least amount of effort.

    1. Personally, I believe that playing games is good for your brain. No matter what the game is it will make you think critically. But, there is such a thing as playing games too much. Everyday, all day is a little much to be sitting on the computer or on xbox and playing a game. From time to time it could be nice to take a healthy mental break from life and still keep thinking.

  12. Gamification is an incredibly powerful tool already, and its applications will only grow in the future. Ideas such as this will allow the smartphone and tablet gaming-app market to expand their platforms to extend beyond the device and entertainment experience they provide to have real-world applications. For example, leading a healthier, more active lifestyle is currently tracked by Nike products, and thus reaching certain milestones could one day be incentivized to provide coupons for other brand affiliated products. Even in-app gaming could provide players with real-world rewards and collectables, or solve bigger problems such as world hunger. Imagine competing with your friends to see who can win the most non-perishable food to be shipped overseas to impoverished countries. That’s certainly a future I’d like to live in.

  13. I remember my high school religion teacher would always have us play on freerice.com whenever we were finished with a test or work early instead of just sitting idle. I never really thought about the possibility of expanding that concept into other kinds of games but what an idea! I know that if I could do some good by playing Candy Crush, I would most definitely feel less bad about my Candy Crush addiction, It would also create more of an incentive to play.

  14. What a great idea. The concept of “gaming for good” is so innovative. Think about it, there are so many people at this very moment who are most likely playing a mobile game. For a company like Gaming for Good to take all of that energy in playing and channel it into something that would motivate good works is truly amazing.

  15. I think this is a great idea! People all around the world indulge themselves with online games, so why not give them a chance to do some good for someone else while enjoying themselves. Knowing that they might be helping someone may also encourage more and more people to participate in these games, which also benefits the creator of the games so they can make more helpful and fun games. I remember my high school teacher would let us play on freerice.com at the end of class everyday. Most of us just thought it was to have a fun time after a long day of school but we later realized that the website was designed to help give food to those in need, which only made us want to play more because it felt great helping someone less fortunate.

  16. I really like the Gaming for Good concept. I always feel like gaming is not useful for anything except passing the time. But if gaming could easily have a significant, positive impact on current social causes, I think that would be fantastic. The idea seems simple enough that any gamer would be interested in participating, yet it has such an important effect that people would endorse. I believe they could make a great campaign for this idea with fun and interesting advertising to really get gamers’ attentions. In addition, Gaming for Good could increase the revenues of many gaming app companies.

  17. I always spent my half an hour to read this weblog’s articles every day along with a mug of coffee.

  18. I think this is a great idea. People spend hours a day playing games like candy crush because they are so addicted and competitive with their friends. And if they would benefit others, I think even more people would be willing to play. I know that I was addicted to Candy Crush and eventually deleted it because I realized how much of my time it was taking up for no purpose at all. However, If I knew that the amount of time I spent playing the game would be helping others, I would feel as if my time wasnt going to waste and I would still continue to play it. Not only is playing online games entertaining, and relieves stress for the person playing it, but it would be great for it to help others in other ways as well!

  19. I think this initiative is an excellent idea. People of all different ages these days are addicted to some sort of online game or another whether it’s Candy Crush or any other popular game. People would obviously feel better playing these games if they knew they were ultimately helping other people out. As stated in the GGI video, “giving can be done in a quick, easy, fun way in small increments”. People who want to create positive social change can take part simply by playing a game. With concepts like this one, it’s easy to jump on board and help make positive changes in the world.

  20. I think that this is a really cool and new idea. I think it is smart especially if it is introduced to the younger generations, so that they grow up with it and becomes part of their social norm. Almost everyone plays some kind of game whether on their phone or other electronic device. This is a really forward idea, and I think it can actually make some kind of difference it it is done correctly. The only aspect of this idea which is a little wary is that they chose the organizations that the money goes to. I think that if the people had the choice to where their money went when they buy the game, it would make them feel good, and it would make them feel like it was them who made a huge difference. I mean if Candy crush cost 99 cents and I got to pick where that money went to, I’d probably buy more items on there if I knew it was going to a good cause. I really hope that this company becomes huge, because I think that this can be a really positive difference.

  21. This strategy certainly carries great negatives and positives. It is great that a user can contribute to a great cause by doing something that they enjoy, but it could become a big problem for the user if they begin playing much more often and for more hours than they should and attempt to justify it by saying that it is for a good cause. Regardless of whether or not it is for a good cause, gaming should simply be a hobby and if something good for society comes out of it, that is a major bonus.

  22. Bringing about a beneficial aspect to online gaming could really change a lot. I have never thought online games could have a purpose or cause, I always looked at them as a way of self entertainment or an escape from boredom. Considering the amount of people who play online games, this could really result in a lot of “doing good”. There is a huge population and demographic of people who play online games.

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