Gaming Industry Social Impact

Part
01
of two
Part
01

Trends - Video Game Employees Involvement in Social Impact Initiatives

There are distinct rewards for brands and companies that try to improve their communities, as well as their cities, and even the world at large. From an uptick in employee commitment, to enhancing business outcomes and brand cachet, there is no arguing that there is a direct business and profitability-led rationale for companies and brands to be active stakeholders in their communities and lead with their social impact initiatives, often called corporate social responsibility or CSR.

Despite extensive searching, there is nothing publicly available surrounding trends on CSR or social impact that directly relates, and only relates, to video game companies. The closest source found was directly surrounding the gaming industry which consists of firms that provide casino gaming and resort facilities to the general public and includes gaming supply developers and manufacturers. Because of that fact, trends surrounding companies that involve their employees were provided as an alternative. The trends are likely to be the same or extremely close, as all companies want a positive social image in this very digital and "gone viral" age, where sustainability and corporate responsibility is a cornerstone of a company's image. Two trends surrounding companies involving their employees in their social impact or social responsibility initiatives, along with some general insights, are detailed below.

General Statistics and Data Surrounding Employee Engagement

Employee Volunteer Programs

Employee Diversity

Part
02
of two
Part
02

Video Game Companies - Social Impact Motivations

Corporate responsibility has become very important to many gaming companies. Whether they are selling in-game virtual goods or utilizing the reach of social media, these companies are aligning their brands with influential social impact initiatives. Five insights surrounding the motivations video game companies have for doing this, are detailed below.
  • For many years, social impact, or more commonly named corporate social responsibility, was not a priority for video game companies. This has recently been changing with games raising funds for everything from pet welfare charities and global disaster relief to mental health needs and scholarships and grants for youth in the United States.
  • There are times that the motivation can come from a need to change some negative publicity the gaming company has received. For example, Knuckles, the red echidna made popular through a series of video games produced by Sega, was made into a highly problematic meme. It essentially became a troll that harasses other online players and spewed racist phrases. To counteract this, Sonic took to their specific Sonic the Hedgehog Twitter social media account with a way to take meaningful action and turn things around. Their five million followers received this tweet: “Let us show you the way… to make the world a better place.” Because of that post, the Sonic brand initiated thousands in donations for vetted GlobalGiving projects in Uganda from organizations, including Arlington Academy of Hope and The Nyaka AIDS Orphans Project.
  • According to Inger Andersen, Executive Director, UN Environment Programme (UNEP), “The video game industry has the ability to engage, inspire and captivate the imaginations of billions of people across the world. This makes them a hugely important partner in addressing the climate emergency. We are encouraged by the commitment of these gaming companies, which shows recognition that we all must play our role in the global effort to lower carbon emissions and effect real change towards sustainability.” The motivation here is clear and powerful. Kati Levoranta, the CEO of Rovio Entertainment stated: "Through awareness-raising campaigns connected to our Angry Birds games and movies over the years, we know our fans are just as angry as us about climate change. Considering the enormity of the environmental challenges that face us in years to come, we as an industry must stand with our players and be evangelists for action." These companies know that their demography is keenly aware of climate change, and therefore to align themselves with them is a powerful motivator.
  • A campaign from The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) champions the positive impact that video games can have on peoples' lives. The campaign called "Game Generation" was created to highlight the "power of play in building community, forging inclusivity, and inspiring creativity." The campaign is a result of consumer data from the ESA which shows that "73% of Americans play video games to relieve stress, while 63% say that gaming improves problem solving skills, and 52% feel it develops teamwork and collaboration." According to ESA CEO Stanley Pierre-Louis; "Game Generation is about celebrating the more than 164 million Americans who love video games and the positive impact that play can have, not only in players' lives but across communities, families, industries, and in tackling societal challenges." This is a powerful motivator for video game companies as it allows parents and their kids to talk in a positive manner about video games.
  • The Electronic Sports League, commonly known as the ESL is the world’s largest esports company. In July 2019, they announced a partnership with Gamers Outreach, which is a charity organization that provides "technology, software, and gaming equipment to help children and teenagers deal with treatments in hospitals." It takes their minds off their all too often dismal and difficult stay. This partnership with Gamers Outreach is part of ESL’s “Gaming for Good” commitment to its current and planned corporate social responsibility initiatives. ESL’s stated brand purpose is to create a world where everybody can be somebody. ESL is committed to using its position as the world’s largest esports company to demonstrate how gaming and esports can benefit great causes and organizations, such as Gamers Outreach. According to Rodrigo Samwell, Chief Marketing Officer, ESL, “‘Gaming for Good’ is a natural progression to fulfill our brand purpose, and I believe it is important that industry leaders like ESL set the tone and use their brand for the good of society. Partnering with Gamers Outreach will allow ESL to support children in hospitals, where gaming can help serve as a connection to the outside world, the motivation to fight a condition, and dream to become somebody. We are committed to working with Gamers Outreach to create awareness and fundraising campaigns that supports the organization's programs through IEM Chicago and beyond. We call upon all gamers and esports athletes to join us at IEM Chicago to use gaming for good.” This is a prime motivation for a video game company to show that they care about kids that are going through an illness, and aligns with their planned corporate social responsibility plans.
Video Gaming companies are finally coming to the conclusion that they can have social responsibility initiatives that align with their fans, gamers, and communities. By actively advocating for and then building awareness regarding important social issues, video game companies can see progress in their industry, all of which are powerful motivators to continue moving forward.
Sources
Sources

From Part 01
From Part 02