Why Gaming Can Be A Force For Good

26/09/2017 17:12 BST | Updated 26/09/2017 17:12 BST

It is a fact accepted by marketers across the world that 'purpose' is the new consumer currency.

One in seven millennials would identify as 'activists', while 71 per cent say their purchases are influenced by a wish to support causes they care about.

Where does this trend come from? A universal search for meaning is surely part of being human - but why is it such a driver for this generation?

Perhaps growing up in a world of 24/7 news, which has now turned into an always-on content-driven lifestyle, has shaped the mindset of a new generation of 'global citizens'. Starkly aware of inequality, international issues and their place in the 'big picture' - yesterday's gap year explorers are now on a journey of self-discovery for the difference they can make in their everyday lives and work.

I should know, I am one of them. Seven years ago, I saw how the gaming community was able to deploy an international fundraising campaign for the survivors of the Haiti Earthquake. I realized there was a way to turn gaming into a force for good in the world.

If ever an industry has been misunderstood, it is gaming. The stereotypical gamer is a teenage boy playing violent games in his bedroom. But the reality could not be further from the truth. The community is close knit, supportive and keenly socially conscious.

Gaming is now one of the world's leading entertainment industries, with 2.2 billion users globally. It is a growing audience that increasingly does not fit the norm of, or self-identify as being, stereotypical 'gamers' - 62% of mobile gamers are women and most are aged over 25.

When people play games they are highly focused and engaged, which is catnip for brands who are desperate to cut-through and capture the attention of a generation famed for its eight-second attention span.

For charities this means a ready-made groundswell of support that can be channeled in the direction of key humanitarian issues. In return, gamers get the luxury of being passive activists - converting their down-time spent gaming into making the world a better place. We are already looking at what we can do to harness the support of the gaming community to help relief efforts around Hurricane Irma.

Alongside fundraising, the games medium can also be a hugely interactive and educational tool. After-all, if you want to make something simple and engage people, play a game. This is being done in gaming from everything like explaining the complexity of finite resources in small island developing states, through to helping young people understand the psychological impact of cyber bullying.

But mass awareness campaigns don't come bigger than the Sustainable Development Goals. At the UN General Assembly - we have launched a game that helps people understand and identify simple, daily things that they can do to help meet Global Goals, so that they stand the greatest chance of being achieved.

Generation Z and millennials - like gamers - might be a much-maligned group. However, their desire to good in the world should be recognized and mobilised. Saving the world isn't a game - but it is a good place to start.