Tuesday, February 17, 2009

This world needs more love

Breaking from my normal posting about Wizard 101 to just post this . . .

Here's a cut and paste from an e-mail I recently sent to Kingsisle:

"I'm so sorry to keep bugging you, but my heart is really with Kingsisle and the Wizard 101 game. I don't know what it is or why, but here I am . . . asking you questions.

Is Kingsisle tied to any current charitable organizations?

I would love to hear about it. I think others would like to hear about that too . . . brand loyalty will be garnered when the organization behind the game shows they care for others who are less fortunate. I was quite impressed with my daughter the other day who spoke in church and said from her heart, 'I know life is about more than just having fun, it's about growing up and learning too.' Although the player base comes to you to have their fun, it would be nice to know on a deeper inspection that the company cares about others and knows that their players are about growing up and learning too.

What if people could donate their crowns or in-game gold toward a charitable cause instead of buying an in game pet? I don't know how many would do that, but having another button off of Zeke saying, 'make a real difference in the real world' . . . I know it would pique interest in the charity you support. I was just browsing this site that I heard about: http://risingstaroutreach.org/ and I was blown away by the need . . . by the fact that leprosy still affects millions, and I know . . . I KNOW . . . there are so many places of need and support. There are so many charitable organizations, but I looked at this one and thought . . . my kids have hands to play video games and have astronomical egos, these people think they are worthless and are horribly deformed, many missing fingers.

Wouldn't it be great if Kingsisle led by example in this way? I think you'd gain a lot more fans than you already have.

Feel free to forward this to whoever, and either way, your company has my heart for considering my children in their MMO.


-The Friendly Necromancer"

Is it too much to ask a company? I know that in games like Second Life, people have used in-game currency to make a real difference in the real world. Is it asking too much of a company that's young like Kingsisle?

. . . or is it just hard to do? There might be a way to automate the flow of money, but you'd have to pay someone to invent that. On the other hand, think about the potential a group of people could have to do good and to show the way . . . to tempt our kids to do good, to be kind, to go out with grace when you retire and have extra crowns on your account . . .

What do you think?

I haven't heard back from them on this and don't know if I ever will. /shrug

It actually makes great PR sense to "give back." Back when I was studying PR, my teacher referred to this company altruism as building the public's trust. What I like about this though is that it's not just about the company donating money to a charity . . . it's about giving our children an opportunity to use this game as a vehicle for giving. You (as a company) can give to a charity, and you'll get a good pat on the back from the public. But if you help teach our children that it's good to be charitable, we will never forget it. never.

I really don't think I'm being too quixotic about that.

Sorry to ramble, back to your . . .

Happy Dueling!


Anonymous said...

It's an interesting idea. I could definitely see the types of families that play W101 willing to give to charity. But ultimately, it would have to prove profitable to KI. I can't see someone going through this rationale in their head: "I like both of these two games, but I think I'm going to subscribe to this one because I heard they allow you to donate money to charities in-game. Sweet!"

Maybe that's just me. Although I could see it simply raising awareness of the game with a press release along the lines of "virtual wizards giving thousands to cure leprosy in children". Something to be talked about briefly due to its uniqueness, but I don't think it would have that significant of an effect.

Stingite said...

This type of "profit" is a different kind of profit. It's building public trust, which is a difficult thing to purchase. I mean, they've done well with advertising on Cartoon Network, but they haven't yet realized the amount of advertising that could be possible with a press release that hits every newspaper and every news channel across the nation. I think the ads on Cartoon Network would pale in comparison. It's free advertising and it's good advertising.

Also, say a kid really wanted to subscribe to w101, but their parents just won't budge on paying a subscription. Boom. This press release hits the street . . . now mom and dad (who are the ones that really hold the pocket book for some of these kids) are pushed over the edge and agree to their kid's wishes because Kingsisle has now invested in public trust.

I also don't think gamers in general realize what the press has convinced so many people to believe about MMOs, going off of the negative press from things like Everquest and World of Warcraft. Those games and vicariously all MMOs have been torn to shreds as evil, addicting, family killers. The Internet itself has been painted as a place that harbors virtual predators. So a lot of people won't even touch these types of games with their kids . . . and with good reason. W101 has already led the way by investing in public trust by trying to implement chat filters . . . it's part of what won my heart to be honest. W101 could rise from the MMO garbage heap by leading by example yet again.

But another part of me just says . . . does it really have to be profitable to them to try to do something amazing? Can't it just be about picking a charity and raising awareness of a charity by simply having a donate button off of Zeke? It's good karma. I guess I'm a believer that the more good you try to do in the world, the more good that will be returned to you.

Stingite said...

By the way, Q . . . I just want to say that I appreciate your time to type that out and post it. You've been a faithful reader of this blog, and you approach this very logically, which I respect. I hope I'm not coming out as argumentative. I just wanted to further explain my stance here based on your comments. Keep em coming! You're awesome . . . as are all my readers.

Anonymous said...

Oh no don't worry about it at all. I love a good argument. I see your point about getting the press, but do you think a simple thing such as putting a button on the Zeke interface to donate money would be enough for newspapers and websites around the nation to post the article? I mean, is it really THAT meaningful?

If I was the head of a newspaper/gaming related news fee, would I think that my readers wanted to hear about something like this?

Anonymous said...

I'm not saying I don't believe in the idea. I honestly have no idea, which is why most of my posts have questions in them :). It could in fact work brilliantly.

Stingite said...

I'm not really saying that just adding a button will spawn a media frenzy right off the bat. There would be a few gamer organizations that would grab on to it for sure because it would be somewhat unique. I mean, you don't see that kind of thing happening in a game that often.

Here's the basic elements of what makes a story newsworthy:

1- controversy
2- broad interest
3- Injustice
4- Irony
5- Local element
6- Personal angle
7- Breakthrough
8- Anniversary
9- Seasonal
10- Celebrity
11- Visuals
12- Mystery and Drama
13- Human Interest
14- Evergreen (things that don't have to be tied to a place or time, they are always relevant because everyone can relate to it)

Now, newsreporters look for stories that fit into these catagories and the more catagories they touch on, the more newsworthy a subject is. Sometimes just satisfying one of the 14 is enough justification for a news story.

so, let's break this down.

1- controversy . . . MMOs are generally seen as bad things for the family. There are online groups formed specifically to help people dealing with MMO addictions. Making MMO's fight for the powers of good (like being altruistic) has controversy written all over it.

2- Broad Interest . . . more and more people are turning to gaming as their source of entertainment in these troubled times. People are generally interested in what the kids of today are doing.

3- Injustice . . . most charities work toward eliminating something that seems very injust.

4- Irony . . . Although making a difference in the real world through playing a game isn't true irony, loosely, it's ironic.

5- Local Element . . . not really up to Kingsisle to spin in this instance . . . that would be up to the news organization to find someone local that plays the game so this one is null for now.

6- Personal Angle . . . this is referring to opinion articles or an article where the news reporter has some special insight. Could be applicable, but not really, so we'll null this out.

7- Breakthrough . . . there's a little bit of paradigm breakthrough to get a gaming company to do this, but this is really talking about things like medical or scientific breakthroughs. Blizzard worked this angle with their "phasing technology" for their recent expansion, but I digress.

8- Anniversary . . . this obviously wouldn't apply at this point. maybe two years from when the button begins.

9- Seasonal . . . nah, unless it all happened around Christmas time when the spirit of giving is in everyone's minds.

10- Celebrity . . . nah.

11- Visuals . . . a 3-D world juxtapose something like a leper colony could create a striking visual.

12- Mystery and Drama . . . I think there's plenty of that in a game company reaching out in this way . . . even moreso if, lets say, the company chooses a cancer research organization as their charity of choice and one of the people who are high up in the game have a personal story as to why that charity is important to them. It then becomes a crusade of sorts.

13- Human Interest . . . Yup. TONS of human interest. In fact, this would be a human interest story at the heart of it all.

14- Evergreen . . . kids being charitable is a pretty evergreen topic. The "positive" news is something everyone looks forward to when they turn on the news. When the world seems to be going to the crapper, look! Here is something redeemable.

So, 7/14 isn't that bad. Creativity could bump the newsworthiness up. Unfortunately, just from looking at the press releases on Kingsisle's website (I really really hate to knock them), I'm thinking there's a lack of passion and creativity in the PR department. They should be writing a news release a day, not one every six months.


But, I don't think it's adding the button that's newsworthy . . . it's adding the button and then reporting the results of making a difference six months to a year down the road. so it's an investment at first with the hope for a future payoff WITH the knowledge that even if "the plan" doesn't work, at least you tried and raised awareness for whatever cause you might have been supporting.

It's something you can't really put a price tag on you know? It's like, even if the project fails . . . even if the button is stupid and no one uses it . . . someone might have clicked on it and had their heart touched or their mind enlightened by charity. Fast forward 20-years, that person may be a new Mother Teresa of charity work because Kingsisle started the ripple with their one drop of caring.

Does that make sense at all? Too hopeful?

Anonymous said...

Very good and thorough explanation. It makes a lot of sense. Yeah, I'm kind of surprised as well that KI doesn't have more 'umph' in their PR. Plus, it's kind of a little link on the side of the webpage, most game websites feature that kind of stuff on their home-page.

Stingite said...

Just to make one point straight . . . KI has been very kind to me. VERY kind to me. And thier kind treatment of bloggers and the community is a positive reflection on them as a company! I just think there's a real possibility to do something really great. I have devoted a good amount of my free time to writing and thinking about this organization from the outside looking in. (I truly don't know what it's really like, and it's not fair for me to criticize too harshly.) There is no greater gift than the gift of time because you will never get it back.

Here's my plea: Even if this suggestion goes nowhere . . . please, KI, please. Please do that public trust justice and continue to do the right and the good things this game and the people that play it deserve.

Enough said. (I hope any criticism received will be taken with big chunks of salt, knowing that those of us on the outside looking in have no real concept of what it's like.)

Happy Dueling!