Gaming for Social Good

Photo by timlam18
02.20.2012By

Photo by timlam18

After doing well with their previous business, RMH Teleservices, the Hansells wanted their next venture to do some good, help uplift corporate America and encourage employees. But they also wanted to reach out to the general public. That’s how they got the idea for ToonUps a decade ago.

Cause Gaming: Games for Good

ToonUps builds online games and apps that help encourage people positively to do good right on their social networks, like Facebook. Their mission is to “brighten the world.”

“The gaming world is the biggest revenue driver for Facebook,” says Ray Hansel, Co-Founder and CEO. “About 50% of Facebook users are playing games.”

In fact, according to Greg Hansell, VP of Product Development, “A vast majority of ad buys are from gaming companies on Facebook.”

And gaming isn’t just for teenage boys, he says. On Facebook, the typical gamer is a 30 year-old female.

“Gaming has become a prevalent medium,” Greg says. “People say, ‘I’m not playing games, I’m hanging out with my friends’.”

With this in mind, ToonUps saw the opportunity to spread some good with gaming apps and positive psychology.

“When you do a good deed . . . it helps you feel better [and] when you share that with others, you’re spreading that good feeling,” Ray says.

Ray says that ToonUps’ community of do-gooders take their gaming deeds and go beyond to support charities with donations.

“It closes the loop of cause gaming,” he says.

Building A Better World

A Better World

ToonUps first Facebook app in cause gaming is A Better World. The concept behind the game was based off of the popular virtual gifts users were sending to each other for all sorts of occasions.

A Better World was designed to reward players of doing good deeds both online and offline. Players can report these good deeds, share their gratitude, hopes, and dreams, send positive messages to each other, and earn currency (Do Good Gold and Positive Points).

In the meantime, users are working towards building their house. With more accomplishments, they can see it grow, with more rooms and floors. Anyone with a big house is because they did a lot of good.

Building Communities for Good

Their first social good campaign was with CURE International, a nonprofit that provides various surgeries for kids in underdeveloped countries. The game challenged its players to do one million acts of good, and if they collectively reached that goal, they’d pay for 10 kids to get surgeries to walk. They reached their goal with a week left to go in the two months allotted.

This month, A Better World has partnered with Integral Heart, a foundation founded by a husband and wife offering educational programs in Guatemala. The players were challenge to send 50,000 hearts by the end of February, and if they reach their goal, they’ll bring electricity to two Guatemalan schools.

A Better World has taken the concept of online gaming beyond its original intent. And the results of cause gaming are real and tangible. Users see that they were directly involved in bringing light to two schools and providing life-altering surgeries for children in underdeveloped countries.

This is still a very new concept, but there’s no doubt that it’ll continue to be explored, and creative ways of using it for social good will be developed. It’s exciting to see where this will go, but most importantly, how much social good it’ll help produce.

Do you think cause gaming will one day play an important part in the work of nonprofits?