For nonprofits in today’s crowded media landscape, getting your message across is a competitive, challenging endeavor. It’s no longer enough to rely on passive forms of communication to create new mindsets – tactics like participating in social communities, publishing editorial content, and conducting general public relations are a great and necessary start, but more often than not, a more immersive means of communication is required to effect real, meaningful change.
Game-based learning is a research-proven medium that has the potential to provide the kind of immersion that creates lasting change in your audience. Games provide a virtual space for active, hands-on learning, and can help you provide new access, expand perspectives, or improve awareness of a critical issue relevant to your mission. Below are a few exemplars from our past work with nonprofits – read on to see how these inspiring organizations harnessed the power of game-based learning to support their missions:
Upon her retirement, Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor made it her mission to promote civics education for young people. Concerned by the civics-related misconceptions she saw represented in the media, she created the iCivics platform targeted at middle school students in order to equip the next generation of Americans for a lifetime of positive civics participation.
iCivics cycled through a variety of delivery mechanisms for their civics education mission. After speaking to Jim Gee, a theoretical linguist at Arizona State University and a known luminary in the game-based learning space, iCivics approached Filament Games on his recommendation to explore the possibilities of civics learning games. Not long after that, Filament pitched Do I Have a Right?, a game whose quality and efficacy led iCivics to commission 20 additional civics games from Filament Games. Each title is supported by a variety of other materials, including readings, activities, discussions, and other resources to support individual, small group, and whole-class learning across a variety of settings. And many of iCivics’ games also support mobile play via iOS and Android tablets, as well as Spanish language and English Language Learner (ELL) support features.
Today, iCivics is the country’s most widely adopted game-based learning solution. Boasting more than 100 million plays, 5 million students, and 250,000 registered teachers, the platform is having a massive impact on how America teaches civics.
National Safety Council
The National Safety Council is a public service organization dedicated to eliminating preventable deaths at workplaces, in homes and communities, and on our nation’s roads through leadership, research, education, and advocacy initiatives. One such initiative is the MyCarDoesWhat.org campaign, a collaboration between the NSC and the University of Iowa which aims to raise national awareness around vehicle safety.
As part of this initiative, Filament Games was selected to develop Dashboard Blitz!, a game which aims to educate drivers on a variety of modern vehicle safety systems. In the game, players work at a virtual auto expo booth, where they answer customer questions about crash prevention technologies such as blind spot monitors and back-up cameras. In addition to making the game, Filament Games has been the National Safety Council’s maintenance partner for Dashboard Blitz!, working closely with them to deliver on feature improvements, maintain platform compatibility, and ensure longevity for this critically important safety awareness content.
India-based EkStep Foundation was founded with a mission to improve access to learning opportunities for children who are at risk of falling behind in their learning growth trajectories. Insufficient access to learning is a complex, multidimensional problem that impacts millions of children on a daily basis, and EkStep Foundation set out to gather partners on their universal, collaborative platform designed to reimagine learning opportunities for every child.
As part of their educational content offering, EkStep Foundation partnered with Filament to create Take Off!, an introductory numeracy game that acts as a central component of the EkStep platform. Drawing on Montessori methodology, the game blends addition and subtraction learning objectives with the convenience and accessibility of mobile gameplay. Designed for equitable access on affordable devices, Take Off! engages players as they help flightless chickens explore the world. Today, Take Off! has been played by thousands of children across India, offering new learning opportunities and access to EkStep’s primary target audience and creating incremental change one learner at a time.
Cool Choices is a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing together individuals, businesses, and communities who are actively engaged in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and addressing climate change. To help advance this mission, the organization partnered with Filament Games to create a game that introduces and reinforces sustainable behaviors in the workplace, leveraging the inherent advantages of instant feedback and strong reinforcement that learning games provide.
Designed to make sustainability fun while showing that small actions add up to big results, Cool Choices is an online card game developed by which teaches players necessary actions that help save money and protect the environment. Through the game, players are awarded points based on the level of impact the action has on energy usage and the environment – picking up key skills along the way which are readily transferable to real-world contexts. Having now been played by more than 5,000 users, Cool Choices has made measurable impacts on a diverse group of organizations including the Milwaukee Fire Department.
Junior Achievement is a global nonprofit youth organization which aims to inspire and prepare young learners to succeed in a global economy through experiential learning programs on topics like work readiness, financial literacy, and entrepreneurship. A longtime partner of ours, we most recently collaborated with Junior Achievement to create RoboSellers – an economics and entrepreneurship learning game that teaches about the role of money in everyday life.
In the game, players take on the role of a savvy space-faring entrepreneur tasked with traveling between alien worlds, buying and selling robot parts on foreign planets, and growing their custom robot business. As players explore the galaxy in search of rare inventory to sell for profit, they are introduced to key economic and entrepreneurial ideas like evaluating costs, assessing value, and the implications of spending and saving money on a business’s bottom line. Designed to supplement Junior Achievement’s JA More Than Money, a specialized program designed to introduce third-, fourth-, and fifth-grade students to key introductory financial literacy and entrepreneurship concepts, RoboSellers was developed with support for 13 different languages in mind – ensuring that the game is accessible to all program participants, no matter their first language.
These are just a few examples of nonprofits using games to support and execute on their missions, but there are many potential strategies for using game-based learning to reach your audience and drive the change you want to see. If you’d like to explore ways that games could have an impact on your mission, feel free to reach out to us for a free consultation!