giving back

Games: 4 Games and Apps with Real-World Benefits

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If you think of video games as something that only teenagers do alone in their basements, there is a burgeoning body of research that refutes you. The average age of the typical gamer these days, according to a recent USA Today article, is 37, and there are now more women playing than teenage boys. And games themselves are not just being produced for entertainment.

There are many games, both online and off, that have social benefits, like Spent and Frontiers, which aim to increase awareness of what it's like to be homeless or in a war zone. Some of these games teach, like the many PBS online games for kids that teach healthy eating, STEM, and reading skills. The book Gamer Generation, which I reviewed recently, lists many games designed for adults and kids, that are beneficial in a variety of ways to the people who play them. And then there are games that have actual benefits in real life that encourage philanthropic thoughts and action.

4 Games and Apps with Real-World Benefits

Tilt World

An iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad app by XEOPlay, this game follows the efforts of little tadpole Flip to save his forest home. Gameplay is simple tilting. The more points acquired in the app, the more real trees are planted by WeForest in Madagascar, to restore the local ecosystem and economy.

Evoke

This online social network game is designed to empower people all over the world to come up with creative solutions to our most urgent social problems. Top players earn online mentorships with experienced social innovators and business leaders from around the world, seed funding for new ventures, and travel scholarships to share their vision for the future at the EVOKE Summit in Washington, D.C.

FreeRice

This is an easy word game played at FreeRice.com. For every word defined correctly (multiple choice) by a player, 10 grains of rice is donated through the World Food Program to help end world hunger.

GWAP

When you play a game at Gwap (Games With a Purpose), you, along with a peer player, are training computers to solve problems for humans all over the world. While these benefits are less directly beneficial in the here-and-now, they are still noteworthy.

This list is far from comprehensive, and we encourage you to comment if you know of others that could be added to this list.

Do you know of any online games or apps that allow you to make real-world contributions?

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