Gaming with social impact
inventures.eu last visited Wolfie Christl, co-creator of Data Dealer, in December 2012. (See our profile here.) The connection of entertainment with social impact is what distinguished Data Dealer from other games. Its storyline – become a data tycoon, collect as much online personal data of others as possible and build a business on it! – has made it a fun educational tool. And it hasn’t gone unnoticed. By the time of our last encounter, the Data Dealer team was working hard on the the German-language demo of the game that they released in spring 2012. Six months later, we wanted to know if the game is still on.
The prize and other news
In May, the Data Dealer team completed their work on the English-language demo, which is now out. With it at hand, they left for New York to compete at Games for Change – one of the largest gaming festivals in the world. A week ago, the G4C jurors handed out the Most Significant Impact Award precisely to the Austrian startup.
In addition to their current progress, the team has also moved towards integrating everything they have into a full-featured multiplayer version of Data Dealer. About 20% work remains to be done, Christl told inventures.eu. This final version will be both in English and German and could be brought online as early as at the end of August if… the cash allows for it.
Crowdfunding for Data Dealer
Data Dealer is a non-profit endeavour. It is “a joint project of the company Cuteacute and the non-profit organisation Cracked Labs – Institute for Critical Digital Culture“, explained Christl. “The core team has been working together since 2000. From 2006, we’ve been doing commercial web consulting like developing websites, content management systems, web apps and so on. After the big success of the German demo in 2012, we decided to really focus on Data Dealer.“ As the project grew, so did the amount of hours that went into developing it – so much so that it has become the team’s full-time activity. Currently, the Data Dealer team members work for 15 dollars per hour. To bring the project into its full-featured final form, 50,000 dollars is needed.
This is where the crowd comes in. On 14 June, the newly incorporated US branch of Cutacute launched a Kickstarter campaign. Within a limited time – before 11 July – Data Dealer gamers and backers can pledge money to the project. If the campaign succeeds, the money will be used for the final development phase. As of now, halfway through, some 7.500 dollars have been pledged.
Christl talked to us from Prague where he spoke about data privacy at a conference on educational technology. He’s still in the social responsibility business and it seems like Data Dealer, too, will continue educating. “We’re thinking about how to extend our project and get permanently involved with stakeholders in the fields of education, digital literacy, consumer rights, data protection and more. For example, we’re working on a Data Dealer Educational Toolkit that will adapt our game for teaching at schools.“ The team has developed a 15-page background information and research paper as a by-product of the game development – it describes online personal data-related risks, patterns of behaviour and is a good source for anyone interested in online data privacy issues.
Data Dealer, however, is not the only game-based project in Vienna aimed at creating social impact. As Christl pointed out himself, social startup Three Coins based out of HUB Vienna have been developing a game enhancing financial literacy.