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Mercy Corps sees royal flush in charity gaming online

United States, September 29, 2009

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Scott Burton

KGW-TV
September, 2009

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PORTLAND, Ore. -- A nonprofit gaming site hopes to cash in on those who spend lots of time gaming at their computer and Portland's Mercy Corps hopes to benefit from your little bad habit.

GamesThatGive.net is striving change the world one online game at a time. The longer you play, the more money that goes to charities like Mercy Corps.

Jacob Colie, plays games online in a Mercy Corps headquarters office, with the approval of his supervisors, because each time he logs on he’s generating donations for the company that employs him.

An advertising banner that floats behind the games benefits needy nonprofits.

Registration is optional at GamesThatGive and users get to select one of the 13 charities to benefit. In turn, that charity receives 70 percent of all revenues. The user doesn't spend a penny and the charities still benefit from their time.

"The projections depend on how quickly it grows but I think a conservative estimate is we get $8,000 to $10,000 in the first six months,” Colie said.

The site was born from a two-year backpacking trip taken by Adam Archer, the chief executive of GamesThatGive.net. After traveling though some of the poorest nations in the world, Archer ended up in one of the richest cities.

"So I'm walking through this casino in Las Vegas with my backpack and I'm watching people literally throwing money away. You know the ca-ching of the slot machines?" explains Archer.

With help from a small team of friends, Archer pursued his idea to bring “cause marketing” to online gaming. Corporate advertisers reach the lucrative gaming market with each drop-down advertisement and make a difference in the process.

"It's a huge opportunity for advertisers,” Archer said. “They want to get into gaming but they don't know how.”

GamesThatGive quietly launched in July but hopes to tap into the estimated 145 million who spend five hours a month gaming online.