Sunday, July 22, 2012


Caine's Arcade from Nirvan Mullick on Vimeo.

If you have a quick moment, watch this short video, Cain’s Arcade, about a boy and his cardboard arcade. Simply put, this is a good story and what I want to strive to do every day even in the smallest interactions. Then read this short article on a Recycled Amusement: Ugandan Playground of Water Bottles. My favourite line from the article is when the artist says “I shifted from doing artwork to just hang on walls, having little influence on society, to doing art that solves community needs.”

From TEDblog’s blog on social games, I’m sharing this list of 10 games with a social purpose. I’ve already told you about Jane McGonigal and all the many people working to facilitate the application of gaming time to the solving of real and important problems. So here is a list of games you can try and lend your hand to practice of solution-contribution.

World Without Oil
Also a McGonigal creation, players in this game are dropped into a world where oil resources have been tapped and where they must get creative to survive the massive global shortage. The best part of the game? It teaches easy ways to use less oil in the real world—habits that players report keeping up when they aren’t playing.
An online protein folding game, FoldIt allows its quarter million players to help with scientific research by stabilizing strings of amino acids. Think of it like biological Tetris — FoldIt makes a competition out of biological pattern recognition, leading to innovative solutions to problems that have frustrated scientific communities for years.
Communicating across languages and cultures isn’t easy. But in this online game, two anonymous players — culled from different locations around the globe — must learn how to speak to each other as they navigate obstacles. Developed by CoCo & Co, this game took top honors at this year’s Games for Change Awards.
Budget Hero
Think you could balance the national budget? Then you’ll want to play this game from American Public Media, which lets players see what happens to the national deficit when they increase funding to programs or opt to make difficult cuts. “Every member of Congress should be required to play this game,” said one of its creators.
Pain Squad
Children and teenagers with cancer are often asked to keep pain diaries — paperwork that is not only boring but focuses their attention on their discomfort. The iOS app Pain Squad makes the whole process fun and interactive — while also helping doctors provide better treatments for young patients.
When your bank account is in the black, it’s easy to think that anyone could pull themselves out of poverty by their boot straps. But in this online game, players are charged with looking for work while surviving on $1000 a month — highlighting that poverty and unemployment are systematic and not just the result of character flaws.
Created by the World Bank Institute in conjunction with McGonigal, this game is a 10-week crash course in social innovation, giving players challenges from “food security” to “urban resilience,” and encouraging them to become a think tank on local challenges.
Most video shoot-em-up video games make war seem action-packed and glamorous. Unmanned aims to paint a far more realistic portrait, casting players as a soldier dealing with boredom and traumatic dreams, in addition to military duties.
This slick game seeks to make charitable giving fun and interactive, rather than passive and forgettable. Currently fundraising to build homes for teenagers on the street in Moshi, Tanzania, Plot.form allows users to donate—and pick out building materials, colors and more for parts of the homes.

Lastly, some of my students’ friends have started an organization to do some work in Lagos. I want to introduce you to WeCyclers and invite you to do some good and support them in their seed funding campaign.

Wecyclers is an organization that gives low-income communities in developing countries a chance to capture value from waste and clean up their neighborhoods through incentive based recycling.

We are excited to announce the launch of our StartSomeGood campaign, a step forward in tackling the daunting waste challenge that faces communities in the developing world.

Through this campaign we are raising funding to launch our pilot recycling program in Lagos, Nigeria this August. We will establish a proof of concept pilot to test our SMS platform and collection infrastructure and develop the business case for scaling up to reach hundreds and thousands of people.

We would love if you could help us spread the word:

1)  Check out our video on our StartSomeGood page and support our efforts. 

2) Share our StartSomeGood page: email it to friends, post it on facebook, tweet about it and help us get the word out any way possible!

3) We've created a template tweet you can use if you prefer to share via Twitter:

Wecyclers is tackling waste in the developing world via @startsomegood Help them launch in Lagos! #socent #recycling

Thanks so much for your support!

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