Shall we play a game?

Connecting your agency to online gaming communities

By Rose Reinert
Guest blogger
game1Last week we paused for a recap of how far we have come in Lon Safko’s book “The Social Media Bible.” Chapter 16 digs into a topic that is complete foreign to me, “Gaming the System: Virtual Gaming.” As I dug in to this chapter, I have to say I was struggling with how I could possibly relate virtual gaming to non-profits. So, to get me through this challenge, I will twist it a bit and let’s see what we end up with. Please join me on this journey.  😉
The chapter provides an overview of advertising within MMORPG ( Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game). There have been very successful campaigns, even including advertising by President Barack Obama during his 2008 campaign.
Safko makes a great point in the opportunity that exists for marketing.

Any time you have 50,000 to 8 million people in the same place with the same interests in a trusted network, a business opportunity exists.

I am sure you may be like me that when you think of video games, you think of teenagers, who generally are not our target donors or volunteers. Actually, according to Safko, “. . . only 25 percent of online gamers are teenagers; the average MMORPG player is approximately 26 years old. Fifty percent are employed full-time, 36 percent are married and 22 percent have children.”
Well, this is great! It seems like a great market that any non-profit would want to reach. Right? Of course, the real question is: “At what price?
With this question in mind, I took the concept of video games and flipped it a bit to see how non-profits could utilize video games for engagement.
There are some simple ways to drive people to your website, and it turns out that games or links are both resources. Below are some examples:
games2The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. The Academy is committed to improving the nation’s health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy. Their site offers engaging games including “Fad Diet Timeline” and “Nutrition Suduko.”
I dug a little deeper and found  “Games for Change.” Founded in 2004, Games for Change facilitates the creation of social impact games that serve as tools in humanitarian and educational efforts. They work to leverage entertainment for social good. I encourage you to click-through and check out the various games that cover topics from Human Rights to Poverty.
I am so interested in how you have experienced gaming. What are ways that you could utilize this unique way to engage. Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comment box below.
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