03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Sep 06, 2012

Video Games For Social Change?

Video games may be the next best way to tap into a new audience open to improving our world, suggests.

Popular online games such as MTV's "Darfur Is Dying" familiarizes players with international human rights laws and raises awareness about violence in Sudan. Zynga, a leading social gaming company, took the idea further when it embedded philanthropy into their Facebook game, "Farmville," blogger Nathaniel Whittemore writes.

Farmville is a virtual world where gamers are constantly upgrading their properties with purchased virtual goods. Last year, they tried selling a special type of sweet potato seed and promised gamers that 50% of the revenue would go to two charities in Haiti.

Well, in just two weeks sales of the seed raised over $800,000 - which is over a million by now. Let's put that in some perspective. Around the same time, a consortium of foundations and online giving platforms were sponsoring America's Giving Challenge, which put up almost $250,000 in bounty for nonprofits to engage their supporters. In a month, almost 8,000 competing nonprofits raised a total of just over $2 million. One of the biggest pushes in our field basically had the same level of return as releasing a virtual freaking seed.

You can read the story at To learn more about the role of video games in doing good, you may also want to check out Time magazine's recently released online piece, "Can Video Games Save the World?"

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