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Agile International Financial review - Blood bars and debt bunnies

Posted Feb 11 2013 3:58am

http://agileinternationalfinancial.weebly.com/1/post/2013/02/agile-international

 

 

ONE way to learn basic financial literacy is to sit in a classroom and listen to someone drone on about retirement accounts and financial charges. An alternative is to run a nightclub for vampires and rake in money by getting your customers the blood-type they want, while socking away enough cash for retirement (a long one—you’re undead).

That is the scenario of “Bite Club”, a video game created by Doorways to Dreams (D2D) Fund, a Boston-based non-profit organisation that works on improving the finances of low- and middle-income consumers. D2D released its first prototype game in 2009, and its library now totals five games. The other titles include “Farm Blitz”, which challenges players to harvest crops from Uncle Felix’s farm while staving off ravenous rabbits (the bunnies represent debt); and “Celebrity Calamity”, in which you are a money manager who keeps a Hollywood starlet happy by keeping her out of debt.

Although the scenarios vary, the five games share a few crucial attributes. Like “Angry Birds” or “Tetris”, they have no extensive back stories and are easy to understand. They rely on real-world decision-making: players have to spend on necessary expenses while also saving for retirement and avoiding excess debt.

Most importantly, they seem to help people. D2D recently released a paper showing the results of a randomised control trial, in which participants took financial self-confidence and financial-knowledge quizzes and then were assigned either to play “Farm Blitz” or to read a pamphlet before taking the quizzes again. Both groups improved on both measures, and although the pamphlet-readers improved more, the comparison that matters most is not whether D2D’s games are better than reading, but whether they are better than nothing.

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