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Skateistan & Gamers: A Nonlinear Approach to Empowering At-Risk Kids


Skateistan student holding a game controller while standing next to a screen displaying her in-game character skating in the 'Play for Skateistan' mod
"Two Worlds Collide: A Skateistan student takes a break from real-world skating to try out her digital counterpart in the 'Play for Skateistan' gaming mod. The future is nonlinear."

by Perry Knoppert (aka dr. Octopus), Founder of the Octopus Movement


The world of skateboarding and the world of gaming are seemingly disparate universes. They operate on different planes of reality—one visceral and tangible, the other digital and intangible. Yet, Skateistan, a non-profit committed to uplifting children in high-conflict zones through skateboarding, has masterfully fused these realms in their new project: 'Play for Skateistan.'

The initiative launched on April 6, coinciding with the United Nations' International Day of Sport for Development and Peace. It aims to attract the attention and generosity of the global gaming community, but not in the straightforward manner one might expect. No, this is a nonlinear approach to a nonlinear problem, and it's precisely the kind of out-of-the-box thinking that we, as members of the Octopus Movement, wholeheartedly appreciate.

The Core of the Campaign

Created in collaboration with DDB Germany and the modding community, this unique fundraising venture has developed playable characters based on real Skateistan students. These characters—Sara from Afghanistan, Natalia from South Africa, and Arun from Cambodia—are available as 'mods' in popular games like Skater XL. Gamers can also contribute directly to Skateistan, providing the funds needed to keep their important work going.

Nonlinear Synergy: From Digital to Physical and Back

In an ingenious twist, the campaign aims not just to raise funds but to also build an emotional connection between gamers and the Skateistan community. The gamers get to play as the students in a digital environment, while their real-world counterparts get to skate in reality thanks to the donations. This cycle is a brilliant example of nonlinear impact, a concept we often explore in the Octopus Movement.

Beyond Geographical Borders

Skateistan's effort goes beyond skate parks in Afghanistan, Cambodia, and South Africa. By entering the gaming realm, they're globalizing empathy and fostering a worldwide sense of community among at-risk children. This innovative fundraising approach doesn't just address immediate needs but also seeds the potential for global change. And in doing so, it's breaking down the barriers that often isolate the "have" and "have-nots."

A Call to the Octopuses

As Octopuses—devoted advocates of nonlinear thinking—we should not only celebrate but actively support such initiatives. For, in every layer of its execution, ‘Play for Skateistan’ lives the very essence of what we believe in: that different thinking can indeed solve global problems.

Let’s take our eight arms and extend them into this fusion of realities, where wheels meet pixels and where physical and digital communities intertwine for the greater good. URLs: https://playforskateistan.com/

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