Imagine the scene. 200 game-makers, along with academics, funders, and journalists convening for two days to explore how to create and use digital entertainment – video games – to address the most critical issues of our day, from poverty, climate change, global conﬂicts, to human rights. They are meeting this week at the Parsons New School of Design for the Sixth Annual Games for Change Festival. I hear the numbers of attendees have doubled each year; oh, to have been there in 2004 with the first 6 people!
Who funds such a festival and why? AMD for one. Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE: AMD) describes itself as “an innovative technology company dedicated to collaborating with customers and partners to ignite the next generation of computing and graphics solutions at work, home and play.” First, let’s understand that the shareholders can be happy. Because AMD makes money by selling microprocessors and graphics chips.
So a corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy that advances and leverages AMD’s brand and products is good for business. Next, how is AMD’s CSR strategy good for the world? Let’s look at MacArthur Foundation’s ground-breaking study that shows that time spent online is critical for teen development. Mizuko Ito, University of California, Irvine researcher and the report’s lead author says “spending time online is essential for young people to pick up the social and technical skills they need to be competent citizens in the digital age.” That kids are learning astronomy, creative writing, and foreign languages, while they are also developing social skills.
With their products in mind, and an awareness of the value of video gaming for educational purposes, AMD launched a signature education initiative called Changing the Game, taking gaming beyond entertainment and by inspiring youth to learn critical education and life skills through the creation of digital games with social content. The program focuses in particular on youth game development as a tool to improve science, technology, education and math (STEM) skills, and to spur career interest in game development or a similar field.
AMD is building its initiative to be high-impact and aligned with their company purposes by being global, engaging employees (in online mentoring and in the communities where they have offices), and partnering with nonprofits that have expertise and community relationships.
As Allyson Peerman, President, AMD Foundation explained, “Video gaming is ubiquitous and global, it transcends all languages. Through video gaming, we can reach kids in schools, at after-school programs, and at home on their own. Our end goal is to inspire kids to learn through games.”