How many young people do you know who saved up their money to buy a game?
I know I did.
I was constantly saving up to buy video game cartridges for my Atari 2600 (yes, I’m old). Or for a memory expansion pack for my Vic 20 so I could squeeze in more lines of code (most of you have no idea what I’m talking about 😃)
Today, young people (and adults too) save up to buy the latest PlayStation, Xbox, Switch, or gaming computer.
For many of us, it may be our first memory of being motivated to save money to achieve a goal. It’s our first lesson in personal finance.
Add it up and this lesson has been repeated millions of times by people around the world.
Then we have school.
You may be surprised to know that many US states and Canadian provinces already require personal finance education to be taught in schools — and many more are coming onboard
I follow this because, over 15 years ago, I designed what may perhaps have been the first realistic personal finance simulation for use in schools.
Many schools around the world use myGoVenture
educational games and simulations to teach students about business, money, and health.
But most schools do not.
Most schools crowbar a few personal finance lessons into existing courses like math or economics. Some schools offer full courses in personal finance — which is great — but they tend to use textbooks, videos, and basic lessons to teach.
Not very effective. Not very motivating.
Personal finance is something you have to experience.
Doing a few basic budgeting exercises and having a video talk at you about personal finance is rarely going to change how we manage money.
Now, back to games.
Beyond saving to buy games, if you are a gamer, you also know that many games have economics built-in. You may have to buy or trade materials, tools, weapons, or other resources.
Often there is a virtual currency used to represent and exchange value.
To succeed you have to apply knowledge and skills in personal finance.
You are not being lectured to about personal finance.
You are not watching a video about personal finance.
You are not doing a meaningless activity about personal finance.
You are doing personal finance.
You are given choices, making decisions, and experiencing the consequences of your decisions.
This is learning at its finest.
And it’s not happening in school.
It’s happening in games.
I'm Mathew Georghiou and I write about how games are transforming education and learning. I design educational resources used by millions around the world. Follow me here and at Georghiou.com