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Gaming was the focus of this edition of Nonprofits Live (NPLive). It's only natural that organizations embracing technology to achieve their missions might explore the potential of gaming for good. Our featured gaming experts were:
Byrd began by sharing some statistics to demonstrate the potential of gaming for social benefit organizations. Games command an audience of 97 percent of teens and and 60 percent of women, according to Pew and Nielsen reports.
Nonprofits can incorrectly approach games by thinking solely about platforms. There are two main challenges when creating games: making a good game and making a game that achieves its goal. Creating good games requires identifying:
Since you will likely not go this alone, it's necessary to assemble a good team to help you through these steps.
Stokes finds that nonprofit games are driving greater innovation than commercial gaming, specifically because many nonprofit games explore the social sphere and behavior. As an example, Stokes cited the game Macon Money, which involves real-world action to explore the issue of socioeconomic inequality.
While social benefit organizations generally think of using gaming for education, games can be used to structure participation around actions like getting out the vote. Gaming elements can identify cause and effect and, ultimately, motivate behaviors to create impact.
And not all games need to exist solely in the digital realm. Gaming elements can be incorporated into the physical world.
Impact is possible when games pool the collective resources of humans working together. Dorado cites the online communities of Farmville, which raised funds for Japan tsunami relief, and FoldIt, which deciphered the structure of an AIDS-like virus. Dorado advises organizations to think outside the box. Making good games is aided by making the creative process collaborative from the beginning.
Game design should follow the "epic win recipe," which means that they incorporate blissful productivity, social fabric, urgent optimism, and epic win. After coming up with the initial design, organizations should develop a prototype and test. Dorado encourages organizations to embrace failure because it leads to learning and then to success.
Joseph followed with some examples of how Global Kids creatively uses games to engage youth to learn and teach others. Global Kids raises funds for game development from corporate donors and organizations funding educational initiatives. Funding amounts and sources for nonprofit game development have increased and continue to.
However, even with more funding available, improved technology means development does not have to cost much. The true cost of game development depends on the aim of a game, its intended audience, and tools used. Going the do-it-yourself route is possible with free and low-cost tools. And organizations that do not want to go it entirely alone can reach out to online game creation communities for help with development.
For more information on the gaming case studies discussed during NPLive, be sure to watch the recording. More gaming information and resources are available via any of the following:
Susan ChavezOnline Community & Social Media Team, TechSoup Global@Susan_Chavez
This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License.
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