Earth (working title), a metagame for bettering the world

Dear Gameful members,


I am new here, and come on a wave of inspiration initiated by witnessing Jane's inspiring approach to games' ability to change the world. I have a specific idea for a project which I feel could, with the right care, grow into a hub for charitable networking, aid and education all through the medium of gameplay. I am reaching out for collaborators to take this from the drawing board to the screen, in hope of helping the world in a new way :)


I'll post a little on my own background at the bottom, let me launch into the idea itself first. You are perhaps familiar with sites such as this: http://www.therainforestsite.com/clickToGive which function on a very simple premise - a unique IP address can click once a day to save a certain square footage of rainforest (or fulfil a host of other charitable aims), and this is paid for by (predominantly) ethical and fair trade advertising which appears on the site. A simple idea, with real results. I would like to combine this idea with a couple of networking / educational aspects, within a game.

The basic look/feel/purpose of the game would be this (although flexible): A "cartoony" 3D-looking planet Earth on which your avatar stands, and is able to walk across in a "The Little Prince" style manner and click on a number of icons on the planet's surface. Each icon when clicked launches a mini-game associated with a particular charitable objective, such as preserving the rainforests, or orangutang habitats, or any number of environmental / human rights causes. When played, each mini-game will feature a pop-up message upon completion of a game task (or of the whole mini-game), reading along the lines of "Congratulations! You have completed XXXX and have contributed to the preservation of XYZ through playing!" The message would have a border around it which contained a number of ethical, clickable adverts, the revenue from which would be paying for that charitable contribution. Options for paid contributions might exist in game also, as an optional extra way to contribute.

The idea would be to build into the game a degree of social networking, whereby players could interact in-game, but also contribute to the game design itself, recommend new causes to be represented by new mini-games, even perhaps "recruit" charities or advertisers who might wish to have a presence within the game. It would be open source, and would welcome expansion through contributions from programmers around the world so that it might "snowball" into an ever larger and more popular and far-reaching game platform. In the long run it might function as a known charitable social network in itself which charities would like to have a presence within.

Of course educational factors could readily be designed in to the function of each game, such that players learned about the problems they were assisting with as they went along. An element of activism could be introduced into certain mini-games, such that sending an email of protest to an MP could be a game goal within a certain mini-game, for example.

I thought to start simply, with one mini-game required before going for beta testing etc, and have a specific idea for this mini-game focused around rainforest preservation, with an overhead view vaguely reminiscent of games such as (the dreaded) Farmville, whereby players have to protect square footage of rainforest in a variety of ways in-game.


The idea would be for each mini-game to be playable in short bursts, and appeal to the same crowd who do play flash games and Facebook games, a short, regular frequency play which encourages this type of daily game play to enable making a real difference in the world, to charities, both financially and in terms of education. For this reason I thought it might be good to enable play within Facebook, although this is not necessary, and might be too complicated, I'm unsure.

I myself am a teacher, a writer, and puzzle designer with expertise in media & communication, and can certainly brainstorm design features, handle communications and approaching of charities & advertisers, and write any material needed for promotion / in-game. What I cannot do is code, or practically create the game itself and this is where I need help. I am willing to learn, if practicable, or to place myself in your hands :) So I am chiefly seeking programmers, but also networkers, and gameful gurus :)

I have held onto this idea for a little while in the hope that I could, with a couple of friends who are more tech-savvy than I, bring it to fruition. I then decided to dispense with the ego side of thinking "this is my brain-child" (lol) and put it out there into the community (having found one here!) in the hope that, as a collaborative enterprise, we could really make this happen. I am willing to devote substantial amounts of time to this if I can get a team of likeminded people together to move it forward.

Jane, if you read this, thanks for the inspiration, and, if you are similarly inspired by this idea, for any help you might be able to offer in bringing it forward.

Peace & love,

Luke Haward

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Have you ever considered connecting with a group like Care2 to get the funding to build it?  You are right that there are many places with a click to save theme - why not ask them if they want to go the next step. :)

Also don't forget that the theme of a game can be environmental but the mechanics should also lead toward a more sustainable, eco-friendly action.

This is a very good idea Kirsten, thank you. I had thought something similar myself. Just need to get organised on this and move forwards...

Please let me know if you need help.  I now have a few games under my belt as well as experience doing organization development.  Good luck changing the world! & thank you.

Kirsten, your short but sweet post gave me a real smile on a day when I'm feeling rotten with flu, thank you so much :)

I would love that. I'm new to game development but have the passion and the ideas, and a few contacts who might be of use. My biggest flaw is probably organisation, so that would be truly amazing.

I was thinking, though I'm not the best artist, to draw up some sketches of what I envision the game (at least the central "hub") looking like, but I suppose there are many other things which need doing at the start, including a coherent business plan! What would you advise is the best course of action at this stage?

I've added you as a friend on Gameful, please feel free to communicate with me in this thread or by PM as you feel is best.

And thanks again! Very kind of you.

Best,

Luke

Hi Luke,

I'm Pascal from Belgium and after reading your amazing post I believe I'm in the same situation as you.

I wan't to make language learning games and don't have the coding or graphic skills.

Listening to Jane nearly made me cry and I felt the urge to get in touch with like minded people.

I would love my project to be integrated in something bigger and your project has the kind of purpose that would exactly fit.

I write to you in case my project could be useful if integrated in yours.

Best regards,

 

Pascal Lefrancq

Pascal,

Thank you for your kind words. I look forward to speaking with you further about collaboration. We are in the process of getting this project from the drawing board to the beta test, and I'll post more updates here soon.

Best,

Luke

Hi Luke, 

After reading your idea for a great project, I would love to join a hand. 

I am a software developer, though only 2 years of experience. I have written game before and here is one game whose core logic I wrote: 

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=first.build&hl=en

I would love to voluntarily help you out with this project, if you don't mind. 

Lien 

HI Lien,

Thank you so much, that's great! :) We'd be very glad to have you as part of the team. We're just now putting together plans for a beta version of the Earth Hub which will hopefully include the basic platform and three mini games. I'm excited to speak to you more about it soon. I'll add you as a friend on Gameful and be in touch with more.

Thanks again, all the best,

Luke Haward

Hi Luke,

No problem, it is my pleasure to participate in an awesome project. Hope to collaborate with the team soon!

Best,

Lien

Great, thanks Lien! I've added you as a friend, let's talk soon!

Any other programmers reading this, we're taking people on at this time, about to launch a website and start the process of building a beta version of the Earth Hub, please get in touch if you'd like to be involved. I'll be starting a new thread for this in the near future as well.

Best,

Luke

Luke,

Your project sounds so innovative! I love the idea! How is it coming along?

I'm a game programmer, and I've noticed that your situation is common among people with really great game ideas inspired by Jane's call to action. People have these amazing ideas and some of the skills necessary, but not all of them, and they need collaborators. This forum is definitely better than nothing, but it's difficult to search, there's no standard format for presenting game ideas, and there are no pictures. It makes it very difficult for game developers like me who want to contribute to search for game ideas that we can help with. It just breaks my heart that too often, the people with the great ideas never get the collaborators they need, and the games never get made. Our world needs these games!

So, I'm creating an online platform for people who want to change the world through games so that we can share game ideas in a visual easily-browsable format, get feedback on them, and recruit each other to collaborate and make them happen. If you would be interested in using a platform like this, will you reply here or add me as a friend?

- Kia

Count me in! I am currently working with Mac McGill and Pnet and others on homeless themed games! 
http://www.jnoodle.com/homeless/
http://www.jnoodle.com/HoBOO/
http://jnoodle.com/hobo101/

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