The Digital Thriving Project is a partnership between the Fair Play Alliance (FPA) and the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, supported by the Riot Games Social Impact Fund. Our mission is to make it easy for anyone to design online spaces and games that help individuals, groups, and communities truly thrive in today’s connected world. To do that, we’re working with a growing list of contributors to create and foster a collection of well-founded, promising and proven approaches and ensure equitable access to these resources.
Today’s online gaming spaces are part of the very social fabric of our society and play an important role in many people’s lives. With that comes a shared responsibility both to tend these spaces well and to design them thoughtfully so that those within can flourish. We believe it is everyone’s responsibility to ensure that gaming spaces are places where we are not just free to be our authentic selves, but also places that enrich our lives and empower us to be our best selves.
We define digital thriving as the outcome of online spaces intentionally designed to foster combined feelings of well-being, accomplishment, belonging, and meaningful relationships in individuals, groups, and communities. We believe that the rich environments of online games are a great foundation on which to build the Digital Thriving project.
But why digital thriving? We believe the need is fundamental.
First of all, success in nature has always been measurable by whether or not a species is thriving. Thriving with humans, according to Daniel J. Brown, co-author of Human Thriving: A Conceptual Debate and Literature Review, is simply “feeling good about life and yourself and being good at something.” These outcomes are very much in line with our goals for all people.
Secondly, it’s estimated that over 60% of the world’s population is online, most of that 60% is using social media, and these numbers are growing. This means that for most of humanity, the human experience is often a digital experience.
Lastly, we believe that thriving is exactly what the internet and web were meant to achieve. Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, said that the web was designed “…to help people work together… to support and improve our weblike existence in the world.” As organizations, the FPA and the Cooney Center are already helping fulfill that intention and through greater partnership and participation, we believe that together we can help fulfill the promise of the web itself.
We invite you to share in our dream. Can you imagine a world where people can be their authentic, best selves? What if you knew that every online game you played would be a respectful, welcoming experience? What if connecting and engaging with others online led to accomplishments that meaningfully contributed to a healthy society and a full life?
Our first steps toward digital thriving are exciting, and we look forward to creating this world with you.
Our first major resource, a design playbook for digital thriving (coming soon), focuses on plays–best practices for game designers and beyond. It is just the start, however, and will continue to grow to include more of the amazing work being done in this area. If you are a designer, developer, creator, researcher with a best practice to share, we invite you to consider contributing to the playbook.