mobile games

When they aren’t busy teaching entire generations how to become homicidal gang-bangers — or whatever evil they’ve been accused of this week — video games are proving themselves capable of doing some good.

There are popular events like the Child’s Play conference, a games-focused charity event that has raised millions of dollars for over 70 hospitals. There are tedious play-throughs of “Desert Bus,” a game described by the New Yorker as “the worst video game ever created,” meant to raise money for charity via Desert Bus for Hope. (The funds raised by Desert Bus for Hope are sent to Child’s Play, making the latter organization the prime example of gaming’s charitable side.)

And now there’s Grantoo, a startup which is today announcing that it has brought its charity-supporting tournament service to MiniClip’s “Rail Rush,” which is said to have 1 million monthly active users.

Grantoo allows game developers to add tournaments to their games. These tournaments are sponsored by brands, such as the USA Network, which agree to donate a certain amount of money to the winning gamer’s charity of choice. The game developers agree to allow the sponsors to add branded elements to the tournament and, in exchange, are offered a fixed sum for each gamer who participates in the event.

Tyler York, the company’s director of business development, says that Grantoo’s service is currently built into 12 games. Its goal is to bring the top 25 mobile games into its service by 2015. By then it would also like to support more charities and introduce new tools and services, York says.

Smartphone owners spend more time playing games than they do browsing social networks, using navigation apps, or reading news. Grantoo’s goal is to put all of those otherwise wasted hours to work for a good cause — and, in the process, maybe it could help support independent game developers.

[Image courtesy M i x y]