Perspectives on greener product development and manufacturing from Sustainable Minds, our partners, customers and contributors.

Can we make goodness a game?

By Sandy Skees on July 31, 2009

There is an interesting trend afoot these days. As I set about developing a messaging platform and launch strategy for my client, Boom Boom Revolution, I became aware of a whole world of new games that give people a way to practice random acts of kindness – using cards, coins, and online tracking.

From Kind Acts and RandomKindActs to the Boom Boom Revolution, entrepreneurs are taking their passion for changing the world and creating an interesting new product category. What struck me about each of them is the blend of altruism and fun that pervades each offering, in very unique and different ways. You can be a social revolutionary or part of a coin-spiracy. You can play or be inspired. But the goal for each is to connect in the real world and then watch that connection ripple out in the world, using an online community.

We are seeing this trend over and over again, the integration of real and virtual lives, communities and activities. As technology visionary and proclaimed long-term thinker, Kevin Kelly, correctly stated a few years ago: "online culture is the culture." We are just now seeing how that is playing out in the convergence of two macro trends: online as culture and goodness as game.

According to Trendwatchers, they see Random Acts of Kindness as a major sub trend in their claim that the overarching global theme for 2009 is “Generosity“ They cite several business programs that randomly give individuals a gift, a nice surprise or an intriguing idea:

  • "Leading Chinese e-tailer DangDang gives back to its customers — and encourages their vigilant attention to the site — by randomly assigning one hour a day as “Lucky Time” in which all purchases made within that hour are free of charge. (Tip of the hat to

  • Wings is a credit card brand owned by Akbank, one of Turkey's largest banks. The card is targeted at frequent travelers, who earn miles as they shop at member restaurants and shops. Wings recently partnered with five upscale restaurants in Istanbul — Ulus 29, Hakkasan, Gilt, Topaz and Beymen Brasserie — to offer a random selection of lucky Wings members a pleasant surprise. After having dinner at one of the restaurants and paying with their Wings card, the customer is notified that Wings will foot the bill.

  • Northern-Irish fashion brand ARK (short for Acts of Random Kindness) sells a line of logo-emblazoned shirts for men and women. They ask that each time a customer wears one, they do something kind for someone else – whether it be buying someone a coffee or giving up their seat on the bus. In addition to spreading random acts of kindness, ARK's shirts will no doubt also prove to be conversation starters, providing wearers with status stories to share with family and friends.”

How will this play out? I believe that we will continue to see goodness and kindness emerge as key themes for individuals, businesses and organizations. Of course, it goes without saying that authenticity and no gimmickry are the watchwords here. It's more than just jumping on this bandwagon, but creating experiences where being generous and kind are enough. They aren't a means to an end but the end game itself.

When authentic goodness is present, people will be draw in, the word will spread, the community will expand. And along the way, free coffees and kind words will be tracked, thank you letters and words of gratitude traded.

Sounds like fun to me!

Image Credit: Boom Boom Revolution