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The Green Life: A Facebook Game with Real-World Results

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November 17, 2010

A Facebook Game with Real-World Results

Activists are spending more time advocating for good causes on social-networking sites, but are we actually accomplishing anything in the real world? Some cultural critics, including New Yorker columnist Malcolm Gladwell, argue that the "weak ties" that characterize online relationships aren't powerful enough to create concrete change. You may excel at FarmVille, but that doesn't necessarily mean you've got a healthy crop of veggies growing in your own backyard. But what if the rules of an online game required real-world action to win?

That's the idea behind eMission, a new Facebook game created by DoSomething.org in conjunction with the EPA's Energy Star program. Players advance in the online arena by taking energy-saving strides in their offline lives. These actions, such as planting a tree or powering down an appliance, must be verified by a friend or confirmed with photographic evidence. What's more, eMission participants have the chance to win one of five $2,000 scholarships.

While it could be argued that time spent logging good deeds online is time that could be better spent doing more good deeds, DoSomething.org's spokesperson, Sophia Bush, says eMission is actually transforming what would otherwise be idle time: "Teens are already on Facebook playing games, so why not play one that's going to change your life for the better?"

--Della Watson

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