Though Plants Vs Zombies has appeared on nearly every gaming platform in existence and developer PopCap Games is hard at work on delivering the PvZ sequel that came to light in August, there is no rest for the company’s legions of shambling undead. Instead of merely allowing these ambulatory corpses a chance to enjoy their afterlives, PopCap has enlisted its gruesome creations in the fight against tooth decay.
As part of the “Stop Zombie Mouth” campaign, PopCap has joined forces with the American Dental Association to promote good dental hygiene. As you can see from the official Stop Zombie Mouth website (or the trailer/music video for the campaign embedded below) this is obviously aimed at kids. While the overall goal is to teach youngsters how to properly maintain their teeth and gums, the campaign also has a lesser, but no less crucial motive of instilling in kids the basics of dental hygiene before Halloween festivities ruin all that hard work in a shower of delicious, sugar-riddled candies.
So, how does a video game company aid in the battle against tooth decay? By getting kids hooked on its games, of course. Under the Stop Zombie Mouth campaign, PopCap will be issuing a number of collectible cards and special coupons based on Plants Vs Zombies. The cards, as you might expect, feature the game’s titular walking dead (as well as five original characters created just for this campaign and a number of zombies not seen in any iteration of Plants Vs Zombies to date), while the coupons are actually free vouchers for full copies of either the PC or Mac version of the game. These goodies are designed to be given away by dentists to their customers, much in the same way that dental professionals have been handing kids toothbrushes and toothpaste at the end of check-ups for as long as anyone can remember.
While we can’t fault the potential benefits of teaching kids how to care for their oral cavities, this whole scheme seemed a bit “out of left field” on first glance. Thus, we sent off a message to PopCap asking why the company would ever want to join forces with America’s dentists. In sum, the company wants to use its games to promote positive change in the world.
“We at PopCap have been interested in the potential for video games to provide benefits beyond entertainment for many years,” PopCap co-founder John Vechey told us. “We’re passionate about the very important cause behind the ‘Stop Zombie Mouth’ campaign and proud to be highlighting yet another positive effect that games can have on society.”
Margo Wootan, Director of Nutrition Policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, praises the initiative, saying that PopCap and the ADA have come up with a very novel solution to this eternal problem. “Changing eating habits among children is one of the most important yet difficult challenges that parents face today,” Wootan said. “The ADA and PopCap Games have come up with a fun, clever, and compelling approach that should appeal to young trick-or-treaters this Halloween. This campaign will help children recognize the relationship between healthy eating and healthy teeth, and provide one of the coolest alternatives to sugary snacks yet.”
It should be noted that this is not the first time PopCap has demonstrated an unexpectedly high level of corporate kindness. In late 2011, when a PopCap employee named Lisa was diagnosed with and began treatment for cancer, her office was literally flood with tiny origami cranes courtesy of her “co-workers” at PopCap’s then-new Shanghai wing. Likewise, in June of that same year, PopCap began selling a number of original Plants Vs Zombies art assets to benefit the Starlight Children’s Foundation and the UK’s SpecialEffect charity group.