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How Video Games Teach Money Management Skills

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Resources are often a key element in video games. They might come in the form of money, wood, space crystals, manpower, or even the player’s time. Managing those resources correctly might be the difference between winning and losing the game.

Now, not every game has a resource system that requires a lot of management, but many do, and it’s these games that can teach gamers valuable money management skills. These games can help teach the fundamentals of economics, like supply and demand, while others cover how to manage personal finances, and one creative Twitch streamer even has gamified the real-world stock market. The secret is getting gamers to use what they are already doing in games and apply it to their lives.

Saving for the Future

Many RPGs have a currency system that plays an integral part of what gear your character uses. From the days of the Secret of Mana to the Witcher 3, some of the best gear is only available with large sums of money. That means the player either has to grind for large amounts of time to earn the money, or save money over time to buy those powerful items when they become available.

That often means struggling through the game with lower level gear or not buying extras, but the pay out at the end is worth it. Gamers who take this approach understand that by struggling earlier in the game and saving their money, the end-game content will be significantly easier with the better gear.

This can easily apply to life. It’s all about prioritizing what things you have to buy, cutting out the unneeded purchases, and then saving and focusing on those big ticket items in the future. It’s also useful to have a rainy day fund in games, in case you run up against a tough enemy and need to purchase additional ammo or healing items. The same applies to the real world. Having enough in savings in case something goes wrong needs to become second nature to people.

Paying Off Debt with Tom Nook

Animal Crossing, and many games like it, allow people to live the life of an adult far before the weight of responsibility sets in. One major feature in these games in the privilege of owning a home, but similar to real life, players have to pay to own the land and house.

In games like Animal Crossing, you can only own a home if you take out a mortgage, and payments are required to make the house grow. Similar to real life, that means the player has to earn enough money on a regular basis to make the monthly payments on the mortgage. That money-grubbing racoon Tom Nook makes sure you keep up on your mortgage, and will make sure he gets paid, similar to real life. After gamers have earned enough money that month to pay off the mortgage, they can start buying other essentials or frivolities.

This can translate directly to a person’s financial situation. Being able to make mortgage payments or other debts might mean some frugal living for awhile, but getting rid of debt quickly can mean earning more. Then, once debts are controlled or eliminated, you can start buying less essential items.

Economic Understandings

Large-scale strategy games like Civilization put gamers in control of an entire nation’s economy. It teaches people how to manage and prioritize spending, along with planning out what goals they want to achieve with their resources. Copies of Civilization are already being produced for education purposes, to help teach students history and economics.

It can also teach many economic principles, such as supply and demand, false scarcity, the need for trade, and how politics affect the economy. While these lessons might not have a direct affect on a person’s finances, it can be very useful if somebody pursues a career in finance or business.

Other games, like World of Warcraft and Eve Online have thriving economies where players are active participants in an economy with others. Instead of being in control of an economy like a strategy game, they instead are at the whims of the market, and can capitalize on it if they are smart.

Learning the Stock Market

The gamification of the stock market isn’t a new idea. High school economics classes have been doing mock investing scenarios to help teach the stock market to kids for decades now. But one creative gamer and Twitch streamer has taken it to the next level by putting his own money on the line and letting his Twitch channels chat make trades for him.

Doing this lets watchers and participants to see the direct consequences of uninformed or bad trades, and how to play the market. It gives people an easy and low pressure way to learn the stock market without putting their own money on the line. It’s also much more engaging to know that real money is on the line instead of just play cash.

Educating Future Generations

The future of education is going to utilize a lot of the gamification of subjects. Hopefully, that will mean more people will take an interest in personal finances and pursuing careers in accounting or investing. Video games can take harder to understand and less engaging subjects like math or economics and transform them into competitive games that they are willing to invest time into learning. If people treat their own personal finances like they do in video games, they could end up having larger savings and a better understanding of where their money is going. While resources in video games may have no value in reality, the skills gamers gain can be invaluable.

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The Author

Ben Allen

Ben Allen

Champion of Hyrule, defender of space, bane of demons, savior of light, and occasional pizza eater.