Brandon Bozzi is the co-founder of Game It Forward, a project that wants to use video games to help raise money for charity. His and Game It Forward's first game is the quiz game Quingo, where players answer trivia questions to earn points for their choice of charity. The game is available now on iPad, and Bozzi took the time to answer questions about Game It Forward and Quingo.
148Apps: How did the whole Game It Forward concept come about?
Brandon Bozzi (BB): I had been working in the commercial games industry for over a decade as a designer and producer of all kinds of games - tabletop, social, core, and casual. During that time, I was following the work of people like Jane McGonigal and Ian Bogost, and quickly became a believer that games were becoming more than entertainment. That they could have a real, lasting social impact. I came to realize though that most social impact games go unnoticed by the masses and thus have little impact at all. So I started Game It Forward to make games that are fun-first and just so happen to make the world a better place. To that end, Game It Forward's mission is to use the compelling interactive nature of games to support education, science, health care, and a variety of other charitable causes.
148Apps: Why Quingo as the first title?
BB: I held a summit last year that brought together people from impactful non-profits with some of the best game designers in the industry to work together to come up with a world-changing game idea. Quingo was the idea that came out of that collaboration. It was the right scope, it was a unique game, it pulled together two very popular mobile game genres (trivia and bingo), and it could have a significant, sustainable effected on the projects that our charity partners were struggling to achieve.
148Apps: How do you set everything up to where players can compete for charity?
BB: The more Hope (points) a player earns in the game the more money Game It Forward donates to their selected charity. Players can see how much Hope they've donated total and compete with their friends around who has donated the most Hope to a particular project, and around who has the highest score for a game.
148Apps: How do you balance the game to where a player just jumping in will have an idea on which charity to support?
BB: We have six charities for our players to choose from: Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Kiva, PAWS, Seattle Children's, Splash, and The Martinez Foundation. These charities represent a variety of causes: health care, micro-finance, animals, clean water for children, and education. The hope is that almost every player will be able to find a cause that resonates with them. Furthermore, each charity is associated with a specific project with a progress bar, so players can see how close each project is to being funded.
148Apps: The game design has an interesting balance where success early on helps make later questions easier – do you counter-balance this in any way with harder questions early on, or is it all randomly-generated?
BB: Good eye. As players get more and more answers correct they see fewer and fewer incorrect answers so it's easier to find all the correct answers as the game goes on. We like how that feels, and how that lets players accelerate towards getting a Quingo (five correct answers in a row). We don't put harder questions towards the beginning or end of a game, but we do try to have every question have some easier answers and some more difficult ones so that every player is challenged at their own skill level.
148Apps: How do the in-app purchases help with getting more money to charities?
BB: Quingo is free to download, so it's the money that comes from in-app purchases (and ads) that Game It Forward shares with the players' selected charities.
148Apps: In testing, do you find that the charity aspect helps keep players more compelled or more willing to spend money?
BB: We designed Quingo to be a compelling game on its own - a completely entertaining experience separate from its social impact. That said, yes, we've found people are more willing to spend money when they feel confident that it's helping a cause that they care about. And we hope that the charity aspect will help bring the game to the attention of players that will enjoy it, but may not have noticed it otherwise.
Thanks to Brandon Bozzi for his time.