Escapist Editorials

Escapist Editorials
DICE 2014: Global Gaming Initiative Does Good With Games

Joshua Vanderwall | 6 Feb 2014 02:00
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With Sidekick Cycle, an almost-too-simple iOS game, Global Gaming Initiative is providing bicycles to kids in need.

Global Gaming Initiative started with a son's trip to Ecuador to help build a school and a well in a village lacking either. Elizabeth Sarquis, Founder and CEO of GGI, welcomed her son back from his philanthropic trip to Ecuador, only to realize that his work there was far from complete. He told the story of a young child who, despite the efforts to build the school, still didn't want to go. It's three hours each way, and he has to help his mother care for multiple siblings, so spending 25% of his day in transit just doesn't make sense. If only he had some way to turn a three hour walk into something more manageable.

Sarquis had a history in Non-Profits, so the formation of Global Gaming Initiative wasn't much of a stretch. But what to do with it? GGI teamed up with World Bicycle Relief, and developed Sidekick Cycle to fund GGI's end of things. It started as a paid game, but went F2P shortly after launch, with 50% of all in-app purchases going directly to fund bikes for kids in need around the world.

Sidekick Cycle has seen some limited success thus far, with the in-app meter showing that 20 bikes have been distributed to date. This is only the first step, though, and there's plenty more to be done. By teaming up with a new charity, Free Bikes For Kids, GGI is significantly reducing the cost per bicycle from circa $120 to just $18. That's a 6-fold increase in the number of bikes that kids will be getting, and would mean that the current 20 bikes would be a much more impressive 120 kids with a means to get to school every day.

Later this month, Sidekick Cycle is getting a major update with 36 new levels, female characters to add to the current male-only roster, and additional localizations for a number of new countries. More importantly, it's expanding availability to Android, further broadening its potential reach.

I won't pretend that Sidekick Cycle is an impressive game - there's only one command in the game; tapping the screen to jump - but it's still refreshing to see someone aiming to do good in the gamess industry. Child's Play may be the best-known gaming charity out there, but it's not the only player, and Global Gaming Initiative hopes to really prove that this year by adding a handful of new charitable titles to its lineup in 2014. If you're in the market to do some good, I'd probably just donate directly to the charity for now, but once it's got a couple games under its belt, GGI may be a good place to look for your next charitable gaming venture.

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