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Real-World Civic Innovation Through Online Gaming

Mark Drapeau (Washington, DC) —

When you think of “games,” you might think of Gears of War for Xbox, or Angry Birds for iPhone, or perhaps Zynga games for Facebook. But increasingly, people working in the public and civic sectors see value in leveraging games and game mechanics to accomplish real-world change. In that vein, a Pennsylvania entertainment company named ToonUps has teamed up with CURE International to use its A Better World game to help children in hospitals around the world.

Ray Hansell, the CEO of ToonUps, said in a press release, “Our desire is to have game play directly impact real people in a positive way in the real world.”

That’s a simple way to sum up their social entrepreneurship.

In partnership with CURE, the largest provider of reconstructive surgery to disabled children in the emerging world, A Better World players can now go to something called “Positive Post” to read the stories of individual disabled children, and in turn write customized get-well messages. These are then digitally delivered to a CUREkids coordinator in the region who shares it with the child via mobile device.

“These children get such a thrill imagining that someone on the other side of the globe cares about what happens to them,” noted Joel Worrall, vice president of CURE.org. “Giving A Better World gamers a chance to deliver customized messages to these children and put a smile on their face is truly a special gift for not only the kids but the people delivering the message as well. The game is a catalyst of kindness.”

Dr. Mark Drapeau is part of the Microsoft Office of Civic Innovation based in Washington, DC.

Image from Cleartechnica.

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David Dejewski

Cool idea, Mark. It’s amazing what a positive effect we can have if we direct our energy to creating value in people’s lives.

Nathan Rodgers

Thanks so much for posting this article! To keep you up-to-date with the progress A Better World is making, here’s a link to a video detailing the game’s founders’ visions of a bright future through cause-gaming: http://youtu.be/OwI-wgUvZyk