Monday, December 10, 2012

Games Aren’t Just for Kids, But Nonprofits Too

As nonprofits continue to develop programing that will better serve clients and bring awareness to their causes, a critical piece in this puzzle is technology. And a critical piece in the technology puzzle is the increasing use of online gaming.
In the Co.Exist article, “Games For Civic Participation, Social Causes, and Fun,” Ben Schiller highlights five of the best examples of nonprofits utilizing online gaming technology to improve their programs.
1.       Macon Money
2.       Commons
3.       Reality Ends Here
4.       Situationist
5.       Re:Activism
It’s fascinating to see all of the uses and possibilities for this technology. As Schiller goes from game to game, from cause to cause, it becomes clearer that this really could be part of the future for social engagement. So what makes some games successful and others not? According to the article’s research, “Games tend not to work when they’re intended to drive home a particular message, or have participants find one correct answer.”
Another interesting observation is that none of the highlighted games involve any type of fundraising in the game platform. When games have the user’s best interest in mind and are ultimately meant to be an enjoyable experience for the user, then that’s the ticket to an authentically engaging game.
It’ll be exciting to watch this technology and innovation develop as nonprofits become more creative in engaging their constituents online. A fun exercise for your nonprofit might be to brainstorm a game it could develop. How would you engage users?  What outcomes would you want from the game?  What experience would you want users to have?   

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