Sunday, March 16, 2014

Let's Play Hunger Games!


Full Disclosure: I never played the game Candy Crush. Everyone that I know seems to have played the game - I have not.

Candy Crush Saga is a match-three puzzle video game released by the developer King on April 12, 2012 for Facebook, and on November 14, 2012 for smartphones. As of March 2013, Candy Crush Saga surpassed FarmVille 2 as the most popular game on Facebook, with 46 million average monthly users.

The game is primarily monetized through in-app purchases (through either a credit card or Facebook Credits); players begin with five "lives", lost whenever a level is failed. When they are exhausted, users can either send requests to their Facebook friends for more lives, wait for them to replenish themselves (a life is re-gained every half-hour), or purchase them. At certain points, primarily at the start of new "episodes", users must also either purchase, or receive a request from at least three friends before they may access the next set of levels. Boosters can also be bought using cash or Facebook credits.

Some Sweet Numbers:

Candy Crush Saga had over ten million downloads in December 2012 alone.

As of February 7, 2014, Candy Crush Saga, the most popular app on Facebook, had more than 61 million likes on the application page.

Candy Crush Saga has received particular attention in the Hong Kong media, with reports that one in seven Hong Kong citizens plays the game.

As of July 2013, it has been estimated that Candy Crush Saga has about 6.7 million active users and earns revenue of $633,000 per day in the US section of the iOS App Store alone.

As of October 2013, Candy Crush is the third most popular free app and the highest grossing app in the Google Play store.

As of November 2013, the game has been installed 500 million times across Facebook and iOS and Android devices.

I never accepted an invite to play an online game. I have watched people playing “Angry Birds” and I guess these are they same people who now play Candy Crush. I own a business; I have my own online game that I play every day, and it is called Angry Customers.

The numbers behind online games like Angry Birds, Candy Crush, Words with Friends are impressive. Here is my question: why cannot this be put to use for the greater good?

Why not have an online game called Criss Cross - and have this money go to the Red Cross?

Why not have an online game called Save the Children - and use real children?

Why not have an online game called Save the Planet - and well, I don’t know - maybe we can use that money to SAVE OUR PLANET?

Maybe I’ll invent a game called Sunny Daze (to finance the installation of solar panels) or Blowback, Blowhard or Blow me Down (to finance the build out of  wind turbines).

The playful nature of online games lowers the barrier of entry for people to get behind new social causes. For example, the simple online quiz game Freerice has encouraged gamers to collect more than 90 billion grains of rice for the World Food Program.

Much like how Twitter allows its users to interact with celebrities and businesses unlike any other medium in history, future game-like services and tools could encourage new kinds of social team building, allowing users to voice their opinions and affect societal change in myriad new ways.

One day we can ask our Facebook friends: “What level of Save the World are you on?” and we are actually saving the world.

What if when you reach “Level 10” of Hunger Heroes you get to video chat with the kid living on the other side of the planet while he eats his first nutritious meal in days? What if every time you get BONUS POINTS someone gets a gallon of clean drinking water for every point? Now THAT is what I call the real Hunger Games!

No one believes that every facet of our lives would improve if it adhered to the rules of online games. Life can’t be all fun and games, and sometimes effort is needed to produce results. Some work is just that - work. However, most industries and human endeavors may prosper if they do a better job meeting the psychological needs of their audience. No form of human expression understands needs satisfaction better than online games.

When used correctly, online games hold the potential to show us the world through a different set of lenses – to craft experiences that engage our mind both cognitively and socially, and ultimately make us feel like an active participant in shaping our destiny. Do we need a better reason to play online games?

Corinthians 13:11

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.

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