Use Your Skills to Save the World: Computer Game Edition
Seattle-based game developer Game It Forward is the creator of a bingo-trivia game for the iPad called Quingo. Game play is free and supports a variety of causes, including Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Kiva, and PAWS.
(Photo Credit: Game It Forward)
“I not only love what I do (making games), I also get to do good with it,” founder Brandon Bozzi told us, in an email interview. “It’s possible. I’m proof.”
We spoke with Bozzi to find out how he combined his years of experience as a game developer with his passion for making the world a better place.
PayScale: Which came first, the game development or the social purpose?
Bozzi: I’ve been making games professionally for the past 13 years. Somewhere in there I starting following the work of Jane McGonigal, Ian Bogost, and other social impact game creators. I quickly became a believer that games could be a powerful force for good in the world. Games are the number one source of entertainment worldwide. We spend $60 billion dollars on games a year, and play games 3 billion hours a week. If games donated just one penny an hour, we could raise $30 million a week for people in need.
PayScale: How did you make the jump to bringing both interests together?
Bozzi: When the time was right, I founded Game It Forward to harness the potential of games to do good. We’re using the compelling, interactive nature of games to support education, science, health care, and variety of charitable causes. Specifically by creating games that are fun first — completely entertaining experiences separate from there social impact.
PayScale: Tell us a bit about Quingo. How did the game come about?
Bozzi: Last year I held a summit to bring together representatives from top-notch nonprofits and some of the best game designers in the industry. Our goal was to put our minds together and come up with a world-changing game. Quingo was the game that rose to the top that day. It’s a lighthearted trivia game with a bingo twist, and players earn money for their favorite charities just by playing. It combines two of the most popular mobile game genres, it was the right scope game for a start-up like Game It Forward to tackle, and it has the potential to have a significant impact on the projects our charity partners are working on. After the summit, I partnered with my co-founder Morgan Belford, and together we made Quingo into a reality.
PayScale: How does it work? Users don’t donate money directly, right? Do you have sponsors, or is it all in-app purchases?
Bozzi: The game is free to play. We earn a little money from ads, but mostly through in-game purchases. We share that money with our charity partners. Players purchase things like: more questions, the ability to see correct answers, and a variety of power-ups to boost their scores. When a player starts the game, they choose a charity to play for. They can see a project that that charity is working on, and how much it costs to fund. As they play, they see a progress bar filling up on the project. The more Hope (points) they earn in Quingo, the faster the bar fills up. All players that have selected the same charity are working together to fill up that bar. When the bar hits 100 percent, Game It Forward donates enough money to the charity to fund the project, then we cycle in a new project for players to play for.
PayScale: How did you find your charity partners?
Bozzi: We want to have a breadth of charities for players to choose from, so that almost all of them will find a cause they are passionate about playing for. We need charities that can break their work into bite-sized, transparent chunks for Quingo players to tackle. We also want charities that see the potential of Quingo and are on board to help us promote it. With all that in mind, we choose these six charity partners: Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (healthcare), Kiva (micro-finance), PAWS (animal welfare), Seattle Children’s (children’s health), Splash (clean water for children), and The Martinez Foundation (education).
PayScale: What advice would you give to other people who want to use their talents to give back to the world?
Bozzi: First, take the time to get clear on what your talents and passions are. Once you think you have a good sense of that, get the word out that you are looking for work that aligns with those talents and passions and gives back — talk about it to everyone you meet. Surround yourself with people that believe you can achieve it. Hunt for positions where you can use your skills in service of something bigger than yourself. Don’t give up. Find someone else that is looking for someone like you, or create your own social impact business.
Quingo is currently available for the iPad. Game It Forward plans to expand the game to other platforms, and add more features and questions in the coming months. They’re also planning to develop more games with a purpose, and add charity partners.
Watch this space for more entries in our new series about companies that give back to the world.
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Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
Jen Hubley Luckwaldt writes about work-life balance, stress management, and other topics relating to what makes us happy at work. A full-time freelancer, she deals with stress by blurring the lines between life and work to the point where the two spheres are barely separate. The happiest day of her career was when scientists proved that looking at pictures of cute animals makes us more productive.