Global Gaming Initiative’s Elizabeth Sarquis talks charitable gaming [interview]

A lot of good can come from playing video games. It can reduce stress and depression, and even improve the memory of the elderly. But there are some companies out there who wish to take it further. If playing a game can improve you as a person, why can’t it also improve the world around you? This is a question Global Gaming Initiative is hoping to answer.

Global Gaming Initiative is not your average game developer. They’re in the business of making games, sure, but they also work with charities. These two things are not as disparate as they sound. The company releases games – Sidekick Cycle will be their first, but there are plans for more – and then a significant chunk of the money they earn then goes to charity. We love the idea of using games as a means to help out the less fortunate, which is why we reached out to Elizabeth Sarquis, CEO and founder of Global Gaming Initiative, to learn more about the company.

Gamezebo: Could you talk a bit about your personal background, as well as what inspired you to start Global Gaming Initiative?

Elizabeth: My son, Alejandro, inspired me to start the Global Gaming Initiative. Alejandro returned from a trip to Ecuador where he worked for Free the Children. He helped build schools in remote mountain villages and was impacted by the barriers that prevented the children from getting an education.

Alejandro spoke often about a little boy, Javier, who was 10 years old and had to spend 3 hours walking to school in the morning and 3 hours walking home. Javier really didn’t see how an education would improve his life. As we continued to think about Javier, we soon realized that in order to help Javier, we would need to bring awareness to his situation. The question became “How can we bring awareness and help Javier get to school?” It then became clear, we had to tell the story and we had to create a vehicle that would help bring about the tangible goods that Javier needed. We made the decision that mobile games would be that vehicle. I like to refer to it, as “Change in your pocket,” it’s always with you and you can connect at anytime.

G: Will Sidekick Cycle be a premium app, or free with in-app purchases?

E: Sidekick Cycle will be a premium app, $0.99, with in-app purchasing capabilities as well. In both cases, 50% of profits will go directly to World Bicycle Relief, our non-profit partner for Sidekick Cycle.

G: Will those who download the game be kept in the loop about how many bikes the game has provided for people in need in Africa?

E: Yes, the “feedback loop” as we have deemed it at GGI is a core concept of our strategy, for it keeps players updated in real-time on the number of bikes delivered through the game.

G: Is the plan to continue releasing games on mobile, or do you have plans to branch out and launch games on other platforms?

E: The plan is to continue releasing games on mobile, since through this platform we can attract our target demographic: individuals that both enjoy fun, fast, and easy games and contributing toward collective social good. We want to empower all players to connect to the cause.

G: Does Global Gaming Initiative have other games in the pipeline? If so, are there any in particular you can currently discuss?

E: Global Gaming Initiative does have more games in the pipeline, but our focus is on Sidekick Cycle at this time.


G: What do you look for in a charity when deciding which ones to partner with?

E: We look for extremely proven and accountable charities that also deliver some form of a tangible good for this allows players to directly understand that by playing the game they are helping contribute to a specific item that can transform lives.

G: Have you decided on a release date for Sidekick Cycle yet?

E: Depending on the final stages of development, the game is set to be released in late May or early to mid-June.

G: Thanks for your time!

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