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Notes from Charity Comms Talk on Games

September 28, 2011

How games can help your charity?

I did a talk today on games and charity.  This was the blurb…

From Wii Fit to Farmville, games are now common currency for millions of us; the average social gamer is a 43-year-old woman and 8 out of 10 UK homes have one or more games consoles. But they can offer more than fun, research found 52% of players report games help them think about moral issues. Sega raised $250,000 to help with the Japanese earthquake in a week. This session introduces the gaming sector and explores its potential for charities.

Below are notes and links from my talk…


You can find more about me here (and our work) for more, contact us at tom at auroch digital dot com.

Who is Playing Games?

The stereotype is that games are the domain of kids and teenagers, which is true – but that domain is expanding fast. Games are now a mainstream medium.

Games Grow Up

Flower (Playstation 3)

For example of something very different from shooting, driving and sports games is ‘Flower‘ on PS3 where you play the wind collecting pollen.

Games Grow Up (Still More)…

Fate of the World (PC)

Another example of games developing is Fate of the World, a serious-science informed game about global warming.

Who is Now Playing Games?

Where are We Playing Games?

As games grow, they are moving into social networks and to our phones at a rapid pace.

How are We Playing Games?

How Can We Use Games?

  • Outreach
  • Education
  • Fund Raising
  • Gamification

Games as Outreach (High Tea’s 3 million plays)

The Wellcome Trust’s High Tea, a game that was part of the High Society exhibition was a huge success in plays and in interesting the players in the game’s core themes.

Games as Education (e.g. Sweapshop: How Efficiency Costs People)

How do you talk to people about the issues involved in sweatshops and employment? Put the audience in charge of one so they can see for themselves. The game is fun but is full of real world information about the issue of sweatshops.

Games as Fund Raising (SEGA’s $240,000 donation)

After the recent Japanese earthquake games company SEGA had an iTunes sale and put all proceeds to charity – and the games shot up the charts and generated huge social buzz in the process.


Gamification is about using games ideas and technology in non-gaming areas.  For more on this topic, see here.  This example is Double Impact, which is based around the idea of using game-reward mechanics to encourage positive behaviour.

Some Hints and Tips…

– Games are not a Panacea (300 apps per day released! A game on its own will not work – it needs to be integrated.)
– Cost of Development will vary (£5K to $25 million)
– Charity and Gaming links are Underdeveloped; there is scope for more!
– Does your charity offer audience? Opportunities; Games Jam, Students, New developers (the digital challenge is often to get noticed!)


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