Advisory Board Spotlight: Chris Castagnetto
Meet Games For Love advisory board member Chris Castagnetto! Chris is part of TikTok’s Global Gaming Business Development team. He’s also a key player in our mission to help kids for life. Read on for the interview!
Chris Castagnetto met Games For Love’s CEO and Founder Nathan Blair when attending a leadership conference in 2022. After sharing each other’s stories and learning more about the organization, Chris joined the Games For Love team as a member of the Advisory Board where he mentors team leaders and gives valuable guidance and advice to the charity’s leadership team. In this interview, he shares the ‘why’ behind his involvement, and tells us where Games For Love is headed.
GFL Founder, Nathan Blair, calls the charity “scrappy” because they stretch every dollar to maximize its impact on children. Can you speak to that?
Chris: One of the first things that really impressed me about the organization was Nathan’s determination to create programs focused on giving back with the least amount of working overhead. There’s definitely a lot of volunteer organizations out there that help children in hospitals, but not to the degree Games For Love does.
With this charity, it’s not just about a singular moment for a child, but building and providing long term ongoing support.
Why do you devote your time and energy to Games For Love?
Chris: Games For Love has a direct impact on the emotional well-being of so many children as they’re dealing with these real life situations. GFL brings positivity, happiness and joy into young lives that are filled with chaos and uncertainty. That’s why I’m involved.
Can you speak to your background in the gaming industry?
Chris: Sure, I started my career working in the gaming industry in 2006, at Gaia Online which, at that time, was one of the world’s largest online gaming, social networking and anime communities. I joined the company working with marketing and events and during my 8 years at the company moved to roles in business development and community management. My core focus at Gaia was to celebrate the community and its users, while bringing positive events and experiences to life which had a huge impact on my future.
Note to readers: In 2007 over a million posts were made on Gaia daily, and 7 million unique users visited every month.
As my career moved beyond Gaia, I continued to take on roles in Business Development and Community Management at companies including Kick9, (a mobile gaming start-up), mobile gaming giant Tencent, and most recently my role at TikTok. My personal objective is to always be working on programs, projects and deals that are elevating and amplifying community moments. Currently I’m working at TikTok focusing on Global Gaming Business Development, bringing happiness and joy to individuals through the work that I do.
The gaming industry today is much bigger than film, television, and sports combined. Can you speak to the power of gaming and gaming communities?
Chris: What I love about the gaming community as a whole, whether it be online through my work, or offline at conventions, is how these communities can bring diverse groups of people together to celebrate a shared passion.
Content creators are in a similar situation where they have created their own brands and sub-communities. These individual creators are storytellers and there is a tremendous amount of opportunity for them to harness their communities to have real impact on people’s lives.
What are some games you love?
Chris: Well, I’m much more of a mobile gamer now than I was in my past, but I used to love MMOs like Final Fantasy XI and Lord of the Rings Online. The openness of these gaming communities provided a safe space, an area of camaraderie, which I see today in new forms of media like TikTok. Whenever the community is put first, that’s where you’ll find true success and authenticity.
Interestingly, Games For Love has found a way to leverage these communities to do good and have a positive impact on the lives of kids who are already part of those communities. The next generation of gamers, on console or mobile, who are going through troubled times will remember how those communities gave them emotional support, and also how Games For Love was a vital part in keeping them connected.
Kids don’t want to feel like they’re being unplugged.
The content creators who work with Games For Love and do charity streams (GFL has worked with more than 1000 content creators to date) want to be a part of the remedy for those hospitalized kids. They’re excited to partner with Games For Love because it’s directly helping a community that they’re already a part of.
You’re someone who has a finger on the pulse of the world of tech. What’s next? What are you excited about?
Chris: One of the things that I’m seeing constantly is that as technology continues to grow and advance there’s still a real need for social connection. The need for community is key. Games For Love helps provide that essential ingredient which is one of the things I love about the organization. Focusing on community is where true growth comes from, and that’s where there are opportunities in the future.
Chris it’s been a blast talking to you. Thanks for taking the time to let the Games For Love family get to know you better.
Chris: Thank you!
Curious about our leadership team?
Meet the entire Games For Love leadership team on our About page. https://gamesforlove.org/about/