Video Gamers Charity Potential
19 May 2015 at 11:03 am
The multi-million dollar video game industry could be a goldmine for charity fundraisers, an online fundraising conference based in the UK has been told.
With the number of gamers on the rise and with the average gamer now spending more than 20 minutes a day playing, the opportunity for charities to engage with them is huge, according to conference presenter and creative director of GOOD Agency in the UK, Reuben Turner.
Turner delivered his session ‘Giving and gaming: what works and what doesn’t’ at the Resource Alliance’s Fundraising Online, a virtual fundraising conference viewed by over 3,000 people from 109 countries.
Turner said that great storytelling, and finding a video game partner that matches a charity’s brand and values, is essential to doing fundraising effectively within gaming communities.
He said the opportunities included:
Unlocking virtual currency held in the virtual bank accounts of video gamers, estimated to be worth around $2bn. RuneScape’s Well of Goodwill, for example, is an in-game feature where players can donate money to real life causes chosen by the game studio.
“Downloadable content (DLC)” partnerships between a charity and a game studio, encouraging players to purchase something in-game which supports a charity. The (UK) Red Cross partnered with Sim City to allow players to purchase Red Cross support for in-game disasters, and 80 per cent of the money went to the charity.
Community initiatives such as gaming marathons, which see teams of people undertaking sponsored challenges (similar to a traditional marathon) in support of charitable causes. Organisations such as Awesome Games Done Quick have raised many thousands of dollars per marathon doing this. Live streaming of marathons makes the potential donor base truly global.
“Gamers aren't sweaty youths in a basement, they are people of all ages and genders, people with a heart,” Reuben Turner said.
“This is a world where millions spend their time, and there is a space for charities in it. Don’t underestimate the importance of storytelling, people love to do something in the virtual world that has an impact in the real world.
“There are some hard truths about gamers – the first being that there’s no such thing as 'gamers'. Today a gamer can be a 50-year old woman playing Candy Crush on her commute, a 30-year old dad building virtual worlds in Minecraft, a 17-year old girl immersing herself in World of Warcraft daily, a 25-year old guy playing Call of Duty with his mates from Uni. Gaming is a broad and deep culture that contains many distinct tribes.
“Casual’ gaming (largely played on phones and tablets) offers you mass reach, potentially to an older audience, but relatively low engagement. Monetising casual games, which are often given away free, is already a huge industry – that has advantages (transaction channels and sales techniques already exist) and disadvantages (you’re vying for a share of a heavily contested digital wallet).
“So-called ‘hardcore’ gaming connects you with more established tribes, often with their own language, memes and cultures. It’s an audience that spends more money, time and attention on games, and that means there’s more opportunity for deeper engagement – albeit with a more niche audience.”