Fun family games based on cards, trivia and charades are quintessential holiday activities. Now a new generation of games adds fresh dimensions of interest and goodwill. Online games—some are free—extend good tidings to people around the world, as well as our environment. Santa is thrilled.
Eco games galore: From determining our family’s carbon footprint to making ethical decisions as a business leader or learning how to help child populations vulnerable to pneumonia, EcoGamer.org is a gateway to enriching experiences. More than 20 entertaining websites employ informative, eco-related calculations, games and quizzes.
Assist African farmers: Heighten awareness and empathy by experiencing on a virtual basis the immense challenges of life on an African farm, including dealing with disease, drought, a lack of resources and war, at 3rdWorldFarmer.com/About.html. Free trials are available, plus links to international nonprofit organizations and relief groups.
Become a citizen scientist: At FilamentGames.com/projects/citizen-science, players travel back in time to investigate how a lake became polluted and what can be done today to protect our waterways. Developed by the National Science Foundation, in partnership with the University of Wisconsin, it illustrates business, lifestyle and social factors that can harm the environment.
Learn and feed: FreeRice.com allows players to automatically help feed hungry people with rice donations through the United Nations World Food Program. Players select from specific subjects: art, chemistry, geography, English, other languages and math. Each correct answer donates 10 grains of rice as participants watch the contents of a virtual bowl gradually fill.
Tabletop games: Bioviva (Bioviva.com), Destruct 3 (UncleSkunkleToys.com), ReThink: The Eco Design Game (PlayReThink.com), Xeko (Xeko.com) and Endango (search Amazon.com) are all new takes on the traditional pastime of board games. Some are made of recycled materials, to boot.