Gamification Case Study: Free Rice


Free Rice is what I call Gamification for a good cause. It’s a project that helps improve people’s lives by letting you play a game.

As we know games have this incredible power to engage people and keep them interested in a specific set of actions they perform inside what we call a game space. Performing these actions, they play the game and have fun. Now imagine if every action you took in the game helped someone around the world improve their life.

That is the power of gamification and that’s why talking about projects like Free Rice is important. Free Rice is owned by the World Food Program and helps raise money to eliminate starvation. The front page on their website reads “20 million people are on the brink of starvation. It’s time to act.” One of the weapons they use to win this war against starvation are games.

Opening the Free Rice page, you see a quiz in the middle of the screen. This is a gamification project that much like Kahoot, that we talked about in the last blog post, utilizes the power of quizzes, points and leader boards to engage people. You can answer questions on different subjects like English vocabulary, humanities, math, chemistry and geography. As you answer questions and improve your knowledge on let’s say English vocabulary, the more you play the more money you help donate to the World Food Program.

The money is donated by the companies that are being advertised on banners in the page. Every time you answer a question right you donate 10 grains of rice. You can see how much rice you donated on the left side of the screen. Questions get harder if you keep answering right and they become easier if you make a mistake so that flow is achieved. Flow is the right balance between skill level and challenge level.

Players compete on leader boards based on the grains that they donated. They can also compete in groups that seems to be very popular as groups have thousands of members. I like the group competition as it encourages people to be more social and fight hunger together. They may invite their friends or family to play together which is always more interesting than playing alone.

A gamification project that is not super complicated but is super effective! Also a great example of what gamification should be about. We know that games have a big effect on us, let’s use that effect to make the world a better place to live.

If you know any more gamification projects that make the world a better place to live please mail them to us at [email protected] or tag us on Twittter @gamifiplus

About the author 

Pete Baikins

Pete Baikins is an international authority on gamification, a lifelong gamer, successful entrepreneur and a lecturer. As CEO of Gamification+ Ltd he mentors and trains companies world-wide on the use of gamification to solve business challenges. Gamification+ won the Board of Trade Award from the UK's Department of International Trade in January 2019.

Pete is co-host of the health gamification podcast Health Points and is also Chair of Gamification Europe, the annual conference for Gamification practitioners.

Pete is an Honorary Ambassador for GamFed (International Gamification Confederation), having previously been the Chair from 2014 to February 2019, whose aim is to spread best practices within and support the gamification industry.

After 15 years as a Lecturer on gamification and entrepreneurship at the University of Brighton he now guest lectures on Gamification at King’s College London and at ESCP Europe at post-graduate and under-graduate levels.

Over the past 20 years Pete has built and sold two businesses. One was in security software and the more recent one was a telecoms and internet connectivity business. He is also an Ambassador for Brighton & Hove Chamber of Commerce in the UK.

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