Comment & Opinion

5 mobile games that give back

A different approach

5 mobile games that give back

This article is part of's series of opinion pieces provided by Chartboost. 

Mobile games get a bad rap. We hear many a news story about exploitative in-app payment systems, and kids who innocently rack up hundreds of dollars on their parents' iPads.

We hear about “whales" spending hundreds, sometimes thousands, on their digital drug of choice.

But what we don't hear about (at least not nearly as often) are the games that strive to make a difference in the world, whether it's through education, fundraising or scientific research.

We think it's time to celebrate the digital do-gooders, so we've put together a list of five mobile games that are having a positive effect on the gaming community - and the world.

Click here to view the list »
  • 1 Tampon Run

    Menstruation is a difficult subject for most - especially young girls. Teenage coders Andrea Gonzales and Sophie Houser are hoping to change that.

    The duo created Tampon Run, a side-scrolling shooter game where players defeat enemies with feminine sanitary products instead of guns.

    They duo met through Girls Who Code, a program that seeks to close the gender gap in technology by teaching girls computer science skills. Although they admit menstruation is an unusual topic for a game, Gonzales and Houser hope Tampon Run will help people feel more comfortable discussing such a taboo topic.

    “Although the concept of the video game may be strange, it's stranger that our society has accepted and normalized guns and violence through video games, yet we still find tampons and menstruation unspeakable," the game’s introduction reads.

    “Hopefully, one day menstruation will be as normal, if not more so, than guns and violence have become in our society; normal enough to place in a video game without a second thought."

  • 2 Wizard

    On August 3, scientists at the University of Cambridge announced that they had created a mobile app that could help improve the cognitive functioning of schizophrenia patients.

    Wizard is a brain training game that aims to improve a person's episodic memory. Episodic memory is the type of memory a person uses when they have to remember where they left their keys in the house, or where they parked their car while out shopping.

    In a study published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, researchers say schizophrenia patients who played the game made significantly fewer errors and needed significantly fewer attempts to remember the location of different patterns during tests.

    “We need a way of treating the cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia, such as problems with episodic memory, but slow progress is being made towards developing a drug treatment," Barbara Sahakian, professor psychiatry at the University of Cambridge and lead researcher on the project, told Reuters.

    So this proof-of-concept study is important because it demonstrates that the memory game can help where drugs have so far failed."

    Although Wizard isn't available in app stores, the Cambridge scientists collaborated with the developers of the popular brain training app Peak to create a cognitive training module within its game based on Wizard.

  • 3 Humble Bundle

    Save money on games and give to charity at the same time? Sounds like a win-win, doesn't it?

    Humble Bundle has had a big impact on the gaming community since its debut in 2010, raising more than $50 million for various charities.

    Though not technically a game, we think it's still worth mentioning. Gamers can pay what they want for the bundles of games, and unlock bonus games if they pay more than the average.

    Then, they decide exactly how they want their money split between the game developers, the charities and the Humble Bundle Tip Jar (which goes back to the company).

    Recently, Games Workshop offered a bundle of DRM-free Android titles like Warhammer Quest and Warhammer 40,000: Carnage.

    And more than 23,000 bundles have been sold so far to raise money for SpecialEffect, a UK-based charity dedicated to helping all people with disabilities enjoy games.

  • 4 Quingo

    Seattle-based "social purpose" company Game It Forward wants to make the world a better place using interactive entertainment. So they created Quingo, a trivia and bingo game that lets you support your favorite charities while you play.

    This is how it works: First, the player picks a charity to play for, such as Seattle Children's Hospital, Paws or Kiva. Then, they play. "Hope Points" are awarded at the end of each game.

    The more points a player earns, the more money goes to their chosen charity. Since Quingo is free-to-play, all of the donated money comes from revenues generated via in-app purchases and in-game ads.

  • 5 Hero Bears

    Hero Bears is an adorable endless runner game in which two bear soldiers carry a third wounded bear soldier on a stretcher. As the player dodges obstacles and collects gold coins, their performance is berated or encouraged by British celebrities like Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson or television personality Lorraine Kelly.

    The app was created to raise money for Help for Heroes, a UK-based organization that supports serving or reservist military and veterans who have suffered injuries or illness.

    Last year, it awarded more than $14 million in grants and launched a new program to treat service members for anxiety, depression and other mental health issues.

    Hero Bears costs about $3.50 and a little over $1.50 from every game sold goes to Help for Heroes. regularly posts content from a variety of guest writers across the games industry. These encompass a wide range of topics and people from different backgrounds and diversities, sharing their opinion on the hottest trending topics, undiscovered gems and what the future of the business holds.