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Cure Runners: Gaming app for financial literacy

What if youngsters could learn elements of financial literacy (saving, credit, ...) by playing an interesting gaming app?

Photo of Stephan Kardos

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Threecoins.org is an Austrian start up that launched several initiatives to improve the situation for financial awareness. One of their projects focus on youngsters. the Idea was to engage young people in playing an attractive gaming app that teaches them important elements of financial live: saving, credit, financial risks, ...

It's downloadable on iTunes and android store.  Their annual report says it has been downloaded 16.000 times in the first weeks with an average playing time between 3-10 minutes, financial behaviour improving during game play.

I wonder how such "gamified" concepts could look like in different communities (grown up, non-tech, ...)?!?!



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Photo of Tyler Cobb

Gamification is a fantastic idea - thanks for getting this on the table, Stephan! The learning benefits of such methods are proven to be very rewarding when executed properly. http://www.ssec.si.edu/blog/gamification#.VQrBPo7F-gE

Careful deliberation on setting up the right learning environment, rewards, and focus on critical learning cornerstones is imperative to the overall success of the game in improving financial literacy and thereby actually empowering the target audience to improve their financial state. In my research of this topic, I came across this "practitioner's guide to gamification of education" and it even contained a relevant example of another financial literacy game. http://inside.rotman.utoronto.ca/behaviouraleconomicsinaction/files/2013/09/GuideGamificationEducationDec2013.pdf

There's some questions that this brings to mind:
> How do we encourage users to treat this in-game currency as precious of a resource as real-world money and focus on long-term stability factors versus short-term, high-risk moves (common in virtual settings where perceived consequences are low)?

> Is there a way one could combine a secure micro-savings account to create a fun, educational, AND practical game?

> Alternatively, could gamification be tied to practical value via alternative currencies like Anne-Laure Fayard researched and discussed? https://openideo.com/challenge/financial-empowerment-challenge/research/bartering-when-money-does-not-work

Photo of Andy Witt

You bring up a fascinating point, Tyler, about questioning how in-game currencies might focus on longer time horizons vs the more traditional immediate gratification of win-spend. Have you seen any games (financial or otherwise) that could be used as inspiration for sustaining interesting and savings over a longer time frame?

Photo of Stephan Kardos

Hey Tyler,

what a great find on gamification. Thanks for sharing this great piece of research and your thoughts around that. I have a follow-up/add on to your first question.

Inspired by Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman ('thinking, fast and slow'), the aspect of delayed gratification came to my mind. There were several interesting tests on that effect (e.g. marshmallow test) and results. I don't want to stress any specific result. However I find it interesting, that there seems to be some difficulty with anticipating increased pleasure / utility compared to immediate (but lower) consumption value.

I wonder: how can we highlight long-term value and help with overcoming the urge of immediate consumption? Or: how can we get out more value of pleasant anticipation (think vacation)?
To be clear on that: I certainly don't think of the traditional "savings account" since interest rates are close to zero for few years know. I am rather approaching from a psychological direction. Any experts here? Or good examples in related or other areas?

Stephan

Photo of Tyler Cobb

Hi Andy,
Truthfully, when I posted that comment, I had not seen any examples of that kind of long-term incentive thinking applied to financial-related games. You raised a good question, though, so I did some digging and came across two apps that were discussed in this article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mybanktracker/are-savings-apps-like-dig_b_6721362.html

They review two apps out there that are enabling people to save better using two different approaches - one rounding up people's purchases and saving the change, and the other, using mathematical models to estimate when it can sneak away a few dollars into a savings account. While these are good steps as they leverage micro-savings methods to help people save for their goals, neither address quite what I was pointing to.

Another article discussed 6 financial-literacy focused games: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-6-best-online-games-that-teach-about-money/
One of those games stood out to me - http://piggybank.disney.go.com/about/ as it looks like it is a strong option for getting a head start on financial considerations though I think it might be more effective with an older target audience and while the dream goals is a good touch, it still seems that they focus on saving for more superficial type items and may miss the mark on longer-term goal setting.

Examples of non-financial, fictional games that have proven successful at incentivizing long-term player commitments are World of Warcraft, Clash of Clans, Dark Souls, Destiny, Dragon Age, etc. All have built massive in-game economies that balance capabilities of the character to earn wealth with the incentives to seek out creative ways to gain more wealth and save that wealth towards bettering their character overall.

I guess on a fundamental level, I am asking how one can encourage the same unyielding tenacity it takes gamers to "level-grind" (the act of tediously doing a certain experience-building task over and over again to increase your power or level) and "farm" (the act of searching for long periods of time for materials or resources to increase your wealth) towards something more productive than just a fictional character?

To re-phrase your question, I think it boils down to this: How might one combine gamification, real-world application, and financial literacy type elements to encourage and hook people into "level-grinding" and "farming" for the end goal of creating a better, stronger future for themselves?

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