Philanthropic Gaming?

April 28, 2008

From TechCrunch (thanks Bernie):

Akoha, a startup working on a “new type of multiplayer online/offline social game”, has raised $1.9 Million in funding from angel investors. The company won’t release details about the exact nature of their game until this Fall, but they have stated that it was inspired by “elements of social entrepreneurship, massively multiplayer and reality-based games.” As far as we can tell, it will mix user-generated content with casual gaming elements, both online and in the real world (think geo-tagged photos taken on a cell phone). People will play for both fun and charity.

The Akoha site promises “meaningful play” “kuz karma’s contagious.” I’m looking forward to seeing how this shapes up. I just signed up for the beta, in fact.

A librarian friend recently told me that people in her field are talking about how Alternate Reality Gaming can benefit libraries. She was musing on how a local ARG could drive involvement for summer children’s programs.

With ARGs being designed for charity, making an impact at librarian conferences, and McDonald’s sponsoring an ARG which is not even branded McDonald’s (and this being reported in a NY Times article), it’s clear that ARGs have a mainstream appeal which has captured people’s imaginations.

What’s unclear is if they are financially viable as standalone ventures, and not as part of a marketing campaign for another product.


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