Gaming for the Japan relief effort

Buy a certain virtual crop in Farmville or building in Cityville and – with the help of Save the Children and the Red Cross – your money goes to Japan earthquake relief, EngageDigital.com reports. “Social games can deploy charity items rapidly in response to disasters.” Zynga (via its Farmville and Cityville games) started in mid-March. Sony Online Entertainment started its relief effort in late March with EverQuest, EverQuest II, its Free Realms virtual world, and Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures, selling $10 virtual cherry blossoms (proceeds went directly to the Red Cross, according to EngageDigital). Sony later added Star Wars Galaxies, PoxNora, and Magic: The Gathering Tactics to the relief effort, having already donated $3.6 million as a company. Other social games and virtual worlds helping out are Playfish, Gaia Online, WeeWorld, and the Korean game portal gPotato and its games: Rappelz (selling a “helping hands” virtual cloak), Flyff, Iris, Luna, and Tales Runner, EngageDigital reports. Though this may be characterized by skeptics as mere “clicktivism,” its tangible aid for those in need and may be pointing gamers in the direction of substantive activism or civic engagement, two clear positives. [BTW, more and more social gamers are abandoning rural life: Cityville surpassed Farmville in active users (61.7 million vs. 57.8 million, respectively), SocialNetworkingWatch.com reported in late December.]


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