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The Red Cross and Gaming

The Red Cross and Gaming

National chapters of the Red Cross have begun experimenting with online games in order to attract younger donors and volunteers to philanthropy.


In the Netherlands, The Red Cross Game encourages online players to engage with a number of virtual public health and safety crises involving first an earthquake in Argentina and then conflict and dislocation in war-torn Zimbabwe.  Players who finish these teaser games and want to tackle the next task, a flood in Mexico, need to pay $19.95 to purchase the full version of the game, which functions as both an exercise in consciousness-raising and a fund-raising maneuver.  The game was created by I Sioux for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

As the “trailhead” video above shows, the British Red Cross is sponsoring Traces of Hope, an alternate reality game (or ARG) that sets up the following situation for players:

Vicious war in Northern Uganda has destroyed Joseph’s home and torn his family apart. He has one goal, to find out from the Red Cross if his mother is alive or dead.

Now he has arrived in the dangerous camp they call Hopetown, he has 24 hours to track down the Red Cross messenger and he needs you to be his guide.

He has a satellite phone, you have the web – together you’ll make a great team. Time is running out; guide Joseph through sickness, fire and violence as together you follow his traces of hope.

More information about Traces of Hope, which is sponsored by Enable Interactive, is available here.

Given these Red Cross games that rely on computational media, it is ironic that the relationship between the Red Cross and game developers has sometimes been notably strained.  In one case, the head of the Canadian Red Cross sent a legalistic cease-and-desist letter to game developers who used the Red Cross logo in first-person shooter games.