As part of Pocket Gamer Connects Digital #4, we held a speed panel discussion on working with charities.
The panellists were Alzheimer's Research UK director of communications and brand Tim Parry, The Children's Society director of new ventures Kirsten Naude and Fundamentally games chief strategy officer Oscar Clark (moderator).
Games can help with real-life issues. Therefore, developers and publishers could work well with charities. There are a vast number of ways in which a partnership between the two can bring about positive changes and results.
For example, to help patients with dementia, a game was developed based around navigation to track what normal navigation looks like over various ages.
"More than four million people played the game," said Parry.
Due to the number of people that played, the project ticked many boxes and provided vital research for Alzheimer's Research UK.
Meanwhile, Naude and the Children's Society can use games as a means of communication.
"It is easier to open conversation when doing something together or playing together," said Naude.
Therefore, the charity has looked at getting professionals, such as psychiatrists and therapists, involved with games to talk to players.
"It is about making people aware of the vulnerability of young people," said Naude.
"For charities, you can't sell out to invite some new medium, you have to go where people are," said Parry.
Games are a great medium for interacting with people. An interactive experience can be crucial in understanding the experience of others.
"To bring your issue to life in an engaging way is unparalleled," said Parry.
As explained by Naude, games can enable you to create emphatic situations.
For example, a VR game has enabled people to experience what it means to be a kid with mental health issues, and what they go through in real-life scenarios, such as exams. This allows you to understand and look at people with an emphatic view.
Due to the hardships of COVID-19, charities have been affected when it comes to fundraising. Therefore, games have become that much more important.
"We are having to be innovative and look at doing things digitally," said Parry.
"The best partnerships are the ones that start with the why. Why should we have this partnership?"
Naude asked game developers to think about how they can contribute to charities at this time, be it a game design theory, bold behaviour in games and how it connects to a charity and people.
"Any kind of technical kind of advice that the games companies can give to charities will be crucial in this time," said Naude.