Unicef is currently running a project which calls on PC gamers to help mine the cryptocurrency Ethereum, with the proceeds going to helping children in Syria.
The Game Changers project might sound pretty unorthodox but there’s real method there.
Mining cryptocurrencies requires an extremely powerful computer and graphics card capable of performing complex mathematical problems. Most PC games already have a computer powerful enough thanks to the huge graphical requirements of most modern video games.
By harnessing their computing power Unicef can take advantage of the way in which cryptocurrencies are produced. In this case Unicef chose to mine the cryptocurrency Ethereum.
The project, which started at the beginning of February, has already seen over 500 people participate with almost €1,200 raised so far. Of course should the value of Ethereum rise that value should increase significantly.
All of that money raised will then go towards helping care for and support children in Syria.
“For the last 6 years, Syrian children have been living the biggest humanitarian crisis in the world, on such a scale that it exceeds the borders of Syria.” Explains the site. “As conflict gets bogged down, the number of people in need of life support increases dramatically. For UNICEF, nearly 8.3 million children need help in Syria but also in neighbouring countries that host refugee families.”
To participate a person simply needs to download the mining software and then just let the computer do the rest.
Mining is a power intensive task and tests even the most powerful gaming PCs. That being said it the project’s creators predict that it should use less than 50p per 24 hours in electricity.
What is cryptocurrency like Bitcoin and Ethereum?
Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are in essence a series of virtual ‘tokens’ that can be exchanged just like normal money except all the transactions take place over the internet.
Unlike normal money, Bitcoin isn’t regulated by any one country, or stored in banks. Instead it follows a shared set of rules that every owner must agree to.
Finally, every cryptocurrency shares a similar technology called Blockchain. This is in effect a giant database that holds the historical transactions for every Bitcoin or cryptocurrency in existence. It isn’t stored on a single computer or within a single building, rather every miner of Bitcoin has these records stored on their computer.
Think of it as a giant trail of breadcrumbs that allow you to trace each Bitcoin right back to the moment of its creation.