The Story

Late in the summer of 2012, entrepreneur Jon Ramer sat down with Kind Living’s Andy Smallman to tell him about an idea he had. Called the Compassion Games, Jon conceptualized the idea after the mayor of Louisville, Kentucky challenged the city of Seattle, Washington to a friendly competition to determine which city was the most compassionate. Jon knew of Andy’s work to promote kindness and thought Andy might be interested in creating a “game” for what Jon was calling the “coopetition” (cooperative competition) between the cities.

Andy was excited by the idea, and worked to adapt one of his popular online kindness classes into a format that would work within the initial structure of the games. Having recently referred to a set of assignments in a class as “missions,” Andy took the idea a step further and referred to the players of his game as “agents” who would complete the missions. In the first year of the Compassion Games, which took place over four weeks, Andy sent out a mission each week, along with a message intended to inspire the agents midweek and a message of reflection to wrap up each week. These messages are all archived here.

The games expanded to include more cities in 2013 and were now structured to take place over 11 days, from September 11th-21st. Andy took his agent and mission idea even further that year, this time calling the game the “Secret Agent of Compassion.” Daily missions were modeled on the old “Mission: Impossible” TV show of the 1960’s, posted from the “headquarters” of the “International Kindness Team.” Seattle media played along and created this story that appeared on local TV. Kind Living’s Fish Astronaut created the first of his many drawings for the games this year, and Dara Barlin of A Big Project came to Seattle and created this promotional video:

Since 2013, the Compassion Games have expanded to include several additional “coopetitions.” Andy contributed additional missions for the games in 2014 and 2015, along with missions for World Interfaith Harmony Week in 2015. These missions are all archived on this website and are available for interested agents to complete at any time. Andy now serves as a “Legacy Supporter” of the games, while Jon continues to be their chief catalyst.

Since starting in 2012, Jon reports that the Compassion Games have involved 500,000 volunteers who have served over 5,400,000 people in 40 countries. Click How to Play to get involved in the next coopetition.

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