Social Impact Games: Do They Work?

BattleStorm and Macon Money Program Evaluation

Above: Data Visualization of two years of Macon Money-related events and interactions. Click for more.

In 2010, Knight Foundation funded two social impact games as pilot projects in two cities – Macon Money, in Macon Ga., and Battlestorm, in Biloxi, Miss.

Unlike past foundation support for digital games, these took place in real-time with real people in the real world and they supported ongoing efforts to tackle local issues. There is already an existing body of research about how digital games have the potential to improve learning and influence behavior. But less attention has been paid to the effects of real-world games – i.e., games that are played out in the physical world. Knight wanted to explore which aspects of real-world games were most effective in addressing community issues.

To learn about what worked, Cause Communications and Network Impact were brought on board to do comprehensive evaluations of both games, and, to communicate the findings in real-time over the course of the games and when final analysis was done.

Knight staff worked with the incoming evaluation data, with game designer Area/Code, and with each game’s community partners to blog about the games and what the foundation was learning. To help communicate key findings, Knight generated a series of materials:

MaconMoney – A game that brings people from different backgrounds together to strengthen the social fabric of the community while catalyzing economic impact.

Battlestorm – A game that promotes the importance of hurricane preparedness through activities focused on youth as leaders.

Interested in the full evaluation reports with all the details?

Knightblog Blog posts and earlier articles:

Can games change attitudes and behavior?” – Sept. 22, 2010 on Knight Blog

Real-world games are fun…but do they work?” – May 10, 2011 on Knight Blog