A video game company and an Elm City nonprofit paired up to develop a game that topped the charts on iTunes this month.
Los Angeles-based video game company Naked Sky Entertainment announced last Tuesday that 14.6 percent of the proceeds of its newly launched game, Scrap Force, will go to Love146 — a New Haven-based international nonprofit that fights child trafficking around the globe through prevention and survivor care programs. Naked Sky Entertainment developed the game for two years before its CEO Tian Mu approached Love146 to propose the collaboration that serves the dual purpose of entertaining consumers and funding an important cause.
“With this, there’s a great opportunity to raise money,” Love146 Director of Development Matthew Miller said. “But there’s also a great opportunity for us to tell our story and reach a whole bunch of people that we might not necessarily be reaching.”
Scrap Force seems to target children and young adolescents but can be played by anyone, Mu said. In the game, the player aims to save the planet from alien intruders and rescue the children that the aliens have kidnapped. Miller said the game that captures the true essence of Love146 — empowering children.
Both Miller and Mu noted the similarities between Love146’s mission and the objective of the game, which they said made the partnership a perfect fit.
“In a way, there’s a parallel between our story and the children who are trafficked,” Mu said. “It’s really about saving those children.”
According to Mu, the decision about which charity to support was not a difficult one. He said he had been involved with various nonprofits over the past five or six years, most of which related to children and education. He added that his company had previously run a youth education program that taught disadvantaged students about the practical uses of math, physics and art in computer programming. After reading articles and watching documentaries about human trafficking, Mu knew that he wanted to support the fight against child trafficking, he said.
Mu said that in his research on organizations that fight child trafficking he determined that Love146 would be the best fit for his company.
“I just loved [Love146’s] whole story. It really moved me to tears when I read it,” Mu said.
Mu said he was drawn to Love146 because the nonprofit does not have a religious or political affiliation. Since he knew that Scrap Force would be played around the world, he wanted to ensure that potential biases towards religious or political groups would not deter people from supporting the cause.
The game had more than 50,000 downloads over the weekend and is currently featured in the “Best New Games” section of the iTunes store. The game features a character dedicated to Love146, links to the nonprofit’s website with each in-app purchase and displays the Love146 logo in the graphics. Members of the Love146 team said they are excited by the amount of exposure that Scrap Force brings them.
“We hope that young people use the links in the game to come to our website to learn about our work and about the issue and to become more sympathized to it,” Love146 Media and Marketing Strategist Joshua Mamis said. “We feel like it’s a win all around for all of us.”
Miller said Naked Sky Entertainment will allow the nonprofit to determine how to use the funding. Depending on how much money they make from the game, Love146 may direct funds to prevention programs that train people to identify vulnerable children, survivor care programs that help trafficked and exploited children recover and operating expenses, Miller said. Because the game is free on iTunes and money comes from in-app purchases, calculating profits from the game is complicated, Mamis said. He added that Love146 does not yet know how much money it will receive.
Mu said he has plans for future partnerships with other organizations. Though he is unable to disclose information about organizations with which he is seeking partnerships, he said he is excited to start work on his next project.
“There’s already another organization we’re talking to,” he said. “It’s something really amazing. We’d like to partner up with them and do something big. That’s what’s next.”
Other New Haven philanthropic organizations are also reaping benefits from online platforms. The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven collects donations through Amazon Smile — a shopping website that gives a portion of its revenue to charitable organizations of the customer’s choice. The Community Foundation’s website, giveGreater.org, also draws donations. Tricia Caldwell, communications manager of the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, said the Foundation uses their website to draw attention to local nonprofits.
“I don’t know if [a smartphone game] is a direct fit for the work that we do, but it’s an excellent fit for any of the nonprofits and direct service organizations,” Caldwell said.
Naked Sky Entertainment and Love146 were both founded in 2002.