(Page 2 of 2)
For example, if you spent 10 hours working at a local branch of Habitat for Humanity, you might get a new virtual tool. If you donated blood at the Red Cross, you could earn virtual blood transfusions that would keep you going even as you get torn apart by alien zombies. Because heroic quests and the cultivation of community are both core elements in gaming environments, the opportunities to integrate philanthropic components are vast.
So are the opportunities to use gaming platforms to generate insight into charitable trends and behavior. Zynga knows which cities give the most through its games. (In the U.S., it's Los Angeles, Houston, and Phoenix.) It knows which types of charities receive the most support (kids and animals). Presumably, over time, gaming platforms will develop Amazon-like abilities to know exactly how to present increasingly relevant philanthropic opportunities to players. They'll know precisely when players are most likely to respond to such offers. If your past behavior shows that you tend to purchase philanthropic items during extended bouts of game-play, for example, you may not actually see such offers until you've been playing for five consecutive hours.
Game developers, in short, have an opportunity to make philanthropy more contextual, more efficient, and ultimately more productive. In time, even the bloodiest crime sprees in Grand Theft Auto may be spattered with faint halos of altruism. For diehard sociopaths, the future is looking darker every day.