SINGAPORE – MARCH 13, 2015 – At an international conference here celebrating kids who commit themselves to global causes, more than 250 middle schoolers from 16 countries got a sneak preview of ShiftRunner’s innovative social change game, Pandoo Nation. They gave the game high marks.
“We had kids from all over the world, from 23 schools, and the feedback about Pandoo Nation was enthusiastic and positive,” said Andrew Hancock, deputy superintendent at the Stamford American International School in Singapore. “We had a chance to see firsthand how an innovative game can be used to help fund causes and connect kids in classrooms and at home to families in need in developing countries. I think it opened a lot of eyes to new possibilities of getting involved and making a difference through a game.”
Kids ages 11-13 tested one part of Pandoo Nation known as “Rescue Camp,” a core game mechanic that relies on resource management skills and strategic planning in a “tower defense” environment to accommodate the needs of displaced villagers. Survey results showed that kids were ready to purchase the game. Anecdotal evidence supported it as well.
“One boy from a school in Vietnam and another from a school in Bangladesh tried to pry licensing codes from us,” says Robert Martini, ShiftRunner’s finance director, who said he was humored by the response and encouraged by it. “They each offered $50 in cash. I couldn’t take their money, because the game isn’t ready yet. But they insisted and they kept insisting until things got a little uncomfortable. I finally convinced them that the best I could do was put them on a waiting list. They weren’t pleased.”
Testing occurred at the annual Global Issues Network (GIN) conference, where every year thousands of middle school students are inspired to become ambassadors for change at conferences held throughout the world, mostly at International schools. Founded in Europe and now in its 12th year, GIN strives for sustainable solutions to global problems through the power of youth collaboration and engagement.
Aptly named #ImaGINation2015, this year’s conference featured an inspiring line-up of key note speakers including Spencer West of Me to We, Salva Dut of Water for South Sudan, the young Filipino founders of The Librery Organization and Pandoo Nation’s own Sam Goodwin and Em Gamboa.
Sam Goodwin, 26, ShiftRunner’s social media and marketing manager, was one of the keynote speakers. In his presentation, Mr. Goodwin encouraged “engagement with energy, focus and purpose.”
“Great ideas are cheap,” Mr. Goodwin told the group. “The real premium is on action, converting your inspiration and energy into focused initiatives that make a real difference in the lives of others. Pandoo Nation does that. The Librery Organization does that. The challenge for you is to ensure that your ideas for change move from your heads to your hands. As we say at ShiftRunner, when in doubt, think with your feet!”
ShiftRunner’s Pandoo Nation game, designed for preteens, combines gaming and global citizenship in an online fantasy world where game points can be converted to real dollars to help people in the real world. Pandoo Nation’s sister organization, Pandoo Foundation, is active in the field and is working directly with young people in developed countries to connect them to families in need in developing countries.
At GIN, ShiftRunner demonstrated firsthand how its game helps people in the real world. Testing of Pandoo Nation was structured as a competition in which students earned bronze, silver or gold medals that were converted into dollars to help fund the Librery Organization, which was founded in the Philippines by three Filipino students who attend SAIS. ShiftRunner’s #GametoGive initiative generated S$1,400 from game testers at GIN.
Started by siblings in the Philippines, The Librery Organization has grown into a youth project that provides access to books for underprivileged and orphaned children. Librery is not a misprint, it is a combination of the Spanish word “libre,” or free, and library.
“The founders of The Librery Organization are a perfect example of the types of kids that we want to celebrate,” said François Perreault, the Executive Director of Pandoo Foundation. “Our desire at Pandoo Nation is to expose kids to a positive experience of giving through our game, while inspiring them to want to do more for our world.”
Collaboration is integral to the Pandoo mission. The GIN conference not only exemplified ShiftRunner’s alignment with SAIS but also demonstrated the future effectiveness of its partnership with international schools for Pandoo Nation’s roll-out strategy.
“Schools represent our first port of call and a key distribution opportunity,” says Anthony Blass, ShiftRunner’s CEO. “We know how passionate kids can be about helping others, and we know that for many of them all that is needed to make a difference is a more convenient method of getting involved. What could be more convenient – and fun – than a game that connects kids in classrooms to kids in need?”