Think of this as FarmVille for a good cause.
When hurricane Sandy cut a path of destruction through the Northeast, the Rockaways in Queens, N.Y., was one of the hardest hit. In an effort to help raise money for those in the community of the Rockaways that are still feeling the effects of last year's storm, Manhattan-based creative ad agency Mother New York has created an online game.
"The effort stemmed from the unorganized bureaucracy we witnessed first-hand and were frustrated by from larger government aided organizations," co-creator of the game and partner at Mother New York, Tom Webster, told ABC News. "Beyond volunteering and donating money, we wanted to use our collective creative skill set in a different and creative way."
The online game looks and plays like a SimCity or FarmVille type of simulation game, but the virtual world in the game is modeled after the actual Rockaways communities. Gamers/donators all around the world can buy items to build homes and neighborhoods in the game and that money will go toward helping Rockaway residents get real help.
"When you help build houses on this virtual world, it will literally go to help pay for supplies to build and rebuild homes in the Rockaways," said Webster.
Donations are measured in "bricks" in "Repair the Rockaways." It takes 400 "bricks" to build a house in the game, which adds up to a $200 donation. The monetary contributions in the game are directly donated to Respond and Rebuild, a volunteer group established in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, according to the game's website.
Repairtherockaways.org launched last week and, so far, has collected over $2,500.
Webster said that Mother New York employees volunteered many hours to the project, working in details right down to modeling characters in the game after real Rockaway residents and volunteers.
"We wanted to flex the muscles that are the strongest. At Mother, that's probably our creative talents," he said.
Webster stressed the importance of sticking with the relief effort. The storm hit the area last October, but he said people are still very much in need. He hopes the game will bring in some additional, much-needed cash.
"I was out at the Rockaways two weeks ago and the story hasn't ended."
Zynga.org (the charitable division of the creators of FarmVille) has been in contact with Mother New York and future projects similar to the "Repair the Rockaways" game could eventually be in the works, according to Webster.
Mother New York has developed television and Internet ads for Virgin Mobile, TV, phone and Internet provider Optimum, Stella Artois, and Sour Patch Kids.