Monday, January 25, 2010

Facebook isn’t just for procrastinating–innovative ways social media is assisting in disaster relief

I am one of those Facebook users irritated by all the cheesy games on Facebook. I’ve never played one, never sent a heart, sheared sheep, gotten a jewel, planted corn or secured bonus loot. (Incidentally, I also hate Webkinz that I am forced to help my 6 year old navigate).

So it was quite interesting to see how one of the most ubiquitous game purveyors, Zygan, is using their products and the devotion of their 180 million fans to help Haitain relief efforts. Zynga is behind such run away hits as FarmVille, Zygan Poker and Mafia Wars. According to the company website, “Zynga is donating 100 percent of the proceeds from non-withering white corn within FarmVille, a Haitian drum on Mafia Wars, the Haiti Wrasse Fish in FishVille, and a special chip package in Zynga Poker to support emergency aid in Haiti through the Zynga Haiti Relief Fund.”

The fact that people will spend real live, actual money on virtual things they send to virtual places still boggles my mind. But right now that aimless play has the potential to do some real good.

You’ve probably heard of the American Red Cross texting campaign–text 90999 and donate $10 to Haitian relief. This campaign had raised $3 million just two days after launch. The campaign is easy (I have a phone), fast (:30), familiar (I text all the time) and the sacrifice threshold is low ($10). These same principles apply to online games where users are already at the donattion portal and accustomed to making purchases.

I have no idea what the profit potential of Farmville corn is for Haiti, but I do know it makes me slightly less irritated to see my friends playing the game.

1 comment:

  1. I'm not a fan of social networking site games either. Several of my friends play them so I wind up clicking "hide" a lot on my wall. Other than it being an irritant I wasn't too concerned about their effect, until articles surfaced their dark side, and how surveys are being created and used for political war, unbeknownst to gamers.