Gaming for Good

Do you consider yourself a gamer? Think carefully about how you answer that question, as the reality may surprise you. The typical definition of 'gamer' is usually someone who looks a little something like this --> But the reality is that games have begun to infiltrate our lives to the point that we don't always recognize when we are playing one. The Entertainment Software Association's 2011 Report found that 72% of American households play computer of video games, with the average game player being 37 years old. Female gamers are also on the rise, making up a whopping 42% of game players. With so many people online, gaming can and is being used to spur some pretty amazing ideas and initiatives.

PSFK recently released a study on the Future of Gaming. Since it costs $150 and I'm low on cash this month, I perused the abbreviated version, posted below. It covers off all of the major gaming mechanics and tactics and includes a bunch of pretty amazing examples.

PSFK Future of Gaming Report [Preview]

View more presentations from PSFK

There are a few that I really wanted to draw attention to for their ability to take game mechanics and turn them into real, applicable and useful tools to further our society and do good.

1. Realitree: A digital manifestation of our local environments and the role that we play in keeping it healthy. Realitree is a huge projection of a

tree and it's surroundings (sky, earth, etc.) that thrives and suffers based on the health of its surroundings. It takes into account news media so that stories that are in conflict with climate reality decrease the visible health of the tree and expose agents of the fossil fuel industry who propagate smears and lies.  Groups, cities and even countries can compete across social networks for the healthiest image of their environment.

2. A web based platform that allows users to compete against each other to design new proteins. This work can be used to help spur innovation in curing diseases such as AIDS/HIV, Alzheimer's and Cancer. Researchers recently engaged gamers to compete in configuring an enzyme structure related to AIDS/HIV. The result: A breakthrough structure in a matter of weeks that had stumped scientists for years. Big win for collaborative gaming!

3. Astronaut: Moon, Mars and Beyond: A collaborative game from NASA intended to grow interest around science, math, technology and engineering. The game is set in a fictional community in the year 2035 and allows players to undertake authentic solar system exploration using resources like NASA's Astronaut Handbook and complete renditions of real Mars exploration missions. I know this is definitely up one Blog Campaigner's alley (@parkernow)

4. Interactive Ping Pong: This one is a little less "for the good of the people" but still a pretty cool idea. An advertising campaign for McDonalds in Sweden asks pedestrians to play ping pong on a giant screen in Stockholm Square. Pedestrians download an app and play an interactive game of ping pong using their mobile phone and the billboard. If a player can play for 30 seconds or more, a McDonalds coupon is sent to their phone.

If all the predictions hold true, some pretty incredible initiatives should come to life all thanks to gaming.

What examples of gaming have inspired or amazed you so far?



(Gamer photo courtesy of Holy Taco)