Video game industry 'could be a goldmine for charity fundraisers'

Charities should capitalise on online games that allow players to donate to real-life causes, according to Reuben Turner of the Good Agency

The British Red Cross features in the game Sim City
The British Red Cross features in the game Sim City

The video game industry could be a goldmine for charity fundraisers, according to Reuben Turner, creative director of the fundraising and marketing consultancy the Good Agency.

Speaking this week at a virtual conference organised by the international non-profit network the Resource Alliance, Turner said that with the number of gamers rising and the average gamer spending more than 20 minutes a day playing, the opportunity for charities to engage with them was significant.

He said the virtual currency held in the virtual bank accounts of video gamers represented an opportunity worth about £2bn.

As an example of the opportunities awaiting charities, Turner cited the online role-playing game RuneScape, which features a Well of Goodwill that allows players to donate money to real-life causes chosen by the game studio.

Charities that have benefited from the Well of Goodwill include the aid and advocacy charity the Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust, the Willow Foundation, which provides special days for seriously ill people, and the children's charity Action for Kids.

Turner also recommended that charities establish downloadable content partnerships with game studios to encourage players to purchase in-game items to support charities. He pointed to how the British Red Cross partnered with Electronic Arts, the developer of the video game Sim City, so that players could purchase Red Cross support for in-game disasters. Eighty per cent of the money raised went to the charity.

Turner said that charities could also carry out community initiatives such as gaming marathons to raise money. The live streaming of such marathons, he said, made the potential donor base global.

Turner said: "Gamers aren't sweaty youths in a basement; they are people of all ages and genders, people with hearts. This is a world where millions spend their time, and there is a space for charities in it."

He added: "Don’t underestimate the importance of storytelling; people love to do something in the virtual world that has an impact in the real world."

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