It may well have been eight months since Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast of the US last year, but restoring the destruction it caused is still ongoing. Repair The Rockaways is a new platform that gamifies the donation process to charities rebuilding communities in the affected area.
Some 147 residents died as a result of the storm, while an estimated USD 53 million worth of damage was done to property. The Rockaways, a peninsula in the NYC borough of Queens was one of the worst hit areas, suffering floods and fires. Developed by creative agency Mother and digital media firm Casserole, Repair the Rockaways is an online platform styled similarly to Zynga’s famous Farmville game. Rather than attempting to build a working farm, the site encourages users to pay real money for digital coins, which they can use to buy building materials and place them on the map. If one person has placed some bricks on a plot, another can then add to that plot with the aim of completing a whole house. Videos documenting the repair work are unlocked depending on how much money is donated. The video below is a sample that details a personal story behind the Hurricane Sandy damage:
While the virtual construction projects don’t accurately reflect efforts on the ground, Repair The Rockaways offers an interesting way to visualize the progress of the campaign and adds a fun element to charitable giving for donors. It also serves as a way to promote rebuilding projects after the media has long since stopped covering the story. Much like the Lemonopoly game, Repair The Rockaways succeeds in enabling anyone to feel more connected to the community from their desktop.
The project has raised more than USD 3,500 for the cause since launching a few weeks ago, but hopes to reach USD 250,000. Are there other ways to use viral techniques to raise awareness of social causes?