86,000 People Visit Diabetes Awareness Video Game

By Bruce Harpham Thursday, November 5, 2020

Video games may be the new answer to diabetes, a chronic illness that affects over 30 million Americans. Available on the Roblox platform, the new game is a collaboration between game developer MelonDev and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), a nonprofit dedicated to medical research. The goal is to raise awareness for type 1 diabetes.

As of November 4, the game has attracted over 86,000 visits. That’s far more people than might attend a traditional in-person diabetes awareness event.

Inside JDRF One World Game

Players can compete in multiple virtual activities in One World. Based on the most popular game badges, players are enjoying the game already. The "Cross the Lane" badge, earned by visiting a virtual walking track, has been won by over 22,000 players. More than 10,000 players have obtained the "Professional Jumper" game badge to complete a parkour-inspired minigame.

The JDRF One World game is better understood as a virtual world rather than a single linear game. Additional game content and activities will be added over time. That means that the game might be even more popular in future years as more mini-games are added.

Find out more about the video game platform that makes JDRF One World possible: Video Game Maker Roblox Files for IPO With 115 Million Monthly Active Users.

How Video Game Fundraising Works

In 2020, traditional fundraising events like races, marathons, and walks are challenging to run. Yet, medical nonprofits and researchers still need funds to advance their goals. That’s why JDRF One World’s virtual fundraising capabilities are notable.

JDRF One World can be played for free. To generate revenue for the nonprofit, players can use Robux, a virtual currency, to purchase in-game items such as digital t-shirts, hairstyles, and accessories. A portion of the proceeds would then be provided to the non-profit.

No Tax Deductions

Donating $50 or $100 to a nonprofit in a traditional fundraiser might give you a tax deduction. Unfortunately, the video game system is not set up to provide this functionality. According to the game’s official webpage: “JDRF does receive a portion of in-game item purchases; these purchases are not tax-deductible donations to JDRF.”

The exact proportion of revenue earned by JDRF is not described on the web page. However, two items are currently available for purchase. The JDRF V1P Bundle (i.e., 450 Robux) and Rufus are a themed teddy bear for 200 Robux. According to an industry wiki, “developers earn $350 per 100,000 Robux exchanged through DevEx.”

Unlike a physical T-shirt, a virtual item has much lower costs to produce and duplicate. As a result, a non-profit might earn more revenue from sales of 100 virtual t-shirts than the same amount of traditional T-shirts.

Other Video Games for Good

One World is far from the only video game aspiring to make the world a better place. The JDRF Game2Give initiative has already launched several successful games in the past.

In its first year of operation, the Game2Give initiative has generated approximately $750,000 for worthwhile organizations. According to the organization’s websites, all funds earned through the Game2Give initiative are directed to creating a cure for diabetes. Diet and insulin can help to manage the illness, but they are not considered to be a cure.

Video Game Streamers for Charity

Logging into a virtual game world isn’t for everybody. Some people prefer to enjoy video game players stream their play. JDRF held its first Twitch fundraising project in November 2019 for National Diabetes Awareness Month (NDAM). That effort generated over $100,000 in revenue for the organization.

Diabetes Treatment Is Improving

Diabetes treatment and technology have come a long way in recent years. Many people are familiar with the development of insulin in 1921 by a team of researchers in Canada. While that breakthrough made a significant difference in helping people to live with the condition, newer research is even more exciting.

A new drug, teplizumab, may delay the onset of diabetes symptoms for up to two years. This therapy is currently going through phase three clinical trials. Developed by Prevention Bio, JDRF has provided funding for the treatment. Such a treatment means more people would be able to live diabetes-free for longer.

In medical devices, a second artificial pancreas system recently received US government approval. Using artificial intelligence, this device helps to avoid blood sugar spikes and lows in patients. That means a higher quality of life for people using this system.

The High Costs of Diabetes

According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes cost the US economy over $300 billion in 2017. Treatments to reduce the condition’s impact and severity may help to improve productivity over time.

About the Author

Headshot for author Bruce Harpham

Bruce Harpham is an author and marketing consultant based in Canada. His first book "Project Managers At Work" shared real-world success lessons from NASA, Google, and other organizations. His articles have been published in CIO.com, InfoWorld, Canadian Business, and other organizations. Visit BruceHarpham.com for articles, interviews with tech leaders, and updates on future books.

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