I just came across the site for Games for Change, an advocacy group for making games with social impacts. The amount of games with social messages made for online audiences, on social networks and for download is impressive – and growing. Games for Change is tapping into the ever-increasing popularity of video games,and taking advantage of social media connections, to raise awareness about issues in a way that hasn’t been possible before. Their website has links to dozens of games categorized around the issues that they touch upon.

From a communications standpoint, the market for online, casual gamers – the top 3 games on Facebook have over 100 million users – is a goldmine. Having played and discussed games like SPENT and Free Rice, I can understand the instant appeal that games can have as social messages. The player is engaged in an interactive experience that demands more of their attention than just watching a video or reading text, no matter how compelling they might be. Add to that the ability to spread the message and the game from within the game and you have a nearly perfect formula for a self-propagating communications campaign.

Personally, I don’t play any Facebook games that require recruiting more players. I’m just too adverse to running a multi-level marketing scheme among my friends. I think it’s a different story, though, when one receives a message from a friend about a game for social change. It’s easy to understand that the game is more than just getting higher numbers for Zynga to take to their IPO. I think social gaming for social good has a lot of potential to change players – knowingly or not – into do-gooders.