A revolution in how we learn to deal with money. Prize-winning game concept, using social media and gamification to teach finance.
A revolution in how we learn to deal with money. Prize-winning game concept, using social media and gamification to teach finance. Read more
About this project
Did you know AVERAGE TEENAGERS in the US or Europe are INDEBTED by a 4-digit sum?
Or that most teenagers have FALSE ideas about their FUTURE SALARIES and take on debts they will NEVER PAY BACK?
Obviously, there is A CHALLENGE TO BE SOLVED. Here is our solution: Kicked Out - an addictive Facebook game that trains financial literacy skills!
WHY A FACEBOOK GAME?
We found out: If kids between 13 and 19 learn how to take smart financial decisions, it will impact their long-term money management patterns.
Learning how to deal with personal finances is like learning how to ride a bike. Your mom can explain things, but you’re probably going to fall a few times before you make it around the block. But there is no educational tool that teaches kids money management in that way!
So we decided to develop it ourselves: a tool for financial literacy education that is intuitive, fun, accessible and really effective. Kicked Out! will be an online social game that is not explicitly educational. Rather, the game dynamics train players’ "alarm bells" to go off in situations where dealing with money responsibly is key.
HELP US MAKE IT REALITY BY BACKING THIS PROJECT, just like these guys:
WHAT’S THE GAME ABOUT?
Kicked out! is about finally living on your own and throwing great parties for your friends and surprising party crashers like Justin Beaver, Lady Giga or Dustin Jimberlake!
The story goes as follows... your parents kick you out of the house and you find yourself in an empty apartment, waiting to be furnished and filled with party people. You will receive some start-up money and can start turning the apartment into your perfect party place. However, you quickly find out that the world out there is not at all as cozy and easy-to-handle, as you thought. Much to the contrary, the world is in a state of trouble and surviving is tough. You come to learn world revolves around one mysterious resource. Your mission is to equip yourself with that resource and to never run out of it. In order to secure your life and to be a great party host, you have to step out of your room and run errands, complete quests and fight challenges out in this world. And you have to make sure you never loose sight of your savings...
THE MONEY - How will we spend it?
• (1) develop a high-quality multi-player game that is FREE to play,
• (2) create game content in collaboration with psychologists, behavioral economists and debt counselors,
• (3) conduct multiple tests with teenagers to ensure the game is both fun and generates the desired learning effects,
• (4) fix bugs, adjust the learning mechanics and boost content in the post-launch phase
• (5) monitor and evaluate the in-game learning effects, on which we'll base our next product: a training package for schools to use the game for teaching financial literacy.
Please back us! The only thing standing between us and a global financial literacy revolution is... the last few cents.
HOW DID IT ALL START?
In June 2011, two young social business experts, Katharina and Matthias met with a games for change-designer, Doris Rusch, tp explore the roots of youth poverty in industrialized countries. They concluded: youth poverty is strongly connected to the ability of handling personal finances. What is referred to Financial Literacy or Financial Capability has one important meaning:
The freedom to live a self-determined life.
Knowing how to handle money smartly is key, because it gives people the opportunity to live a life in dignity and have the freedom to fulfill their dreams within the scope of their financial means. Unfortunately, we found out that this crucial life skill is something lacking throughout society, especially among the young generation. Yet, handling money is not being taught in our society. Most importantly, there is no safe environment to experience what works and what doesn’t when it comes to money…
So, how would we teach teenagers to handle money smartly? In what way would they accept learning about finance? Where should we start?
We came up with the following idea: Why not develop a Facebook game like Farmville or Mafia Wars and include game play dynamics that will train young people’s financial literacy skills? That way, we reach young people in their free time, speaking their language, and giving them the opportunity to actually have FUN while learning about money. Because learning life skills has to be fun, in order to have an effect.
Skill-based games produce real learning effects, especially when it comes to training spontaneous actions and smart behaviour.
Just as games like “World of Warcraft” actually teach their players multitasking and strategic thinking, players will only be able to win our game, if they have internalized the skills, knowledge and experiences they need for managing their money smartly.
Find more on us, the game and our organization on our webpages:
ECONOMIST GEEKS! Here is more about our game science
Intuition rather than rational behavior: The challenge in training financial literacy skills and financially sustainable behavior is that dealing with money is largely based on intuition rather than rational choice.
Telling kids about the nuts and bolts of personal finance is not enough. Children need the possibility to experience financial challenges. They need to learn how to overrule impulse purchasing, conspicuous consumption, and identify debt traps.
Learning by playing
Studies all over the world repeatedly confirm that children are much more likely to learn when they are not forced to do so, but when they play. This is why learning via games proves highly effective: children are much more likely to learn and retain knowledge through games vs. simply being told.
So our game, Kicked Out, offers teenagers the opportunity to experience the scope of personal finances in order to bridge the gap between financial knowledge and financially responsible behavior.
Studies have shown that children and young adults who play shooter games score higher when tested for hand-eye coordination, multitasking and strategic skills. With Kicked Out we achieve the same intuitive learning effect in the area of financial literacy skills.
How Kicked Out works
To develop Kicked Out we convened a team of psychologists, educators, behavioral economists and debt counselors to work with game designers. This interdisciplinary team of experts ensures the game covers necessary elements teenagers need to internalize in order to more responsibly handle personal finances. The game play dynamic is as close as possible to real life scenarios, while integrated in a fun, social media environment.
How much does life really cost?
Extensive research done for Kicked-Out showed the most common reason young people fall into debt is a combination of unforeseen events and no savings. In other words, young people lack financial forecasting and contingency planning skills.
Another factor is many young people have misguided expectations about future earnings. They live beyond their means in the belief that debts accumulated today can be paid back once they receive a high salary later. Altogether, 40% of Americans say they live beyond their means.
In Kicked Out, players will be repeatedly confronted with the most common of these pitfalls. They will train in financial forecasting and contingency planning. They will get used to the facts that electricity bills rise, tax payments vary, and it is necessary to plan for the unexpected - teenagers will get a feeling of how much life really costs. They will learn that even small expenses tend to accumulate and may eventually pose a problem.
You like our idea as much as we do, right? Awesome!
Then, please become part of helping our project take off!
Financial literacy is the set of skills, experiences, and knowledge needed to take responsible financial decisions. That is, simply knowing how to handle money does not necessarily lead to financially literate behavior. We need to bridge the gap between abstract knowledge (knowing how a credit card works or how to calculate interest rates) and translating it into actual behavior (intuitively knowing when it's NOT wise to use the credit card).
But don't you learn to handle money from your parents, and from simply starting to deal with them as you grow up?
That's a common belief contradicted by the experience of debt counseling. It turns out that in the same families two siblings will act with money in totally different ways. What influences financial behavior is often the first few experiences one makes during the time of a first own income.
I see from the project description that the game development team is based in Vienna, but you also work with team members in San Francisco? How does that work?
The development team is based in Vienna, where the venture was founded. After our stay in the Bay Area, we partnered with Alyea Sandovar, a game developer and psychologist, who is going to co-develop the game's learning content. Based on this cooperation, we plan to establish a US base of our organization in San Francisco in a couple of months.
We are trying to reach young people between 13 and 19 years old, because that's the age at which long-term patterns in dealing with money manifest. However, that doesn't mean that older age groups won't be able to play the game. We actually get a lot of interest from the 25+ group.
The majority of current financial literacy education focuses heavily on the abstract side of things - definitions and math. That is, without a doubt, important, since it teaches kids the basics of personal finances. You need to know a bank account is and how interest works. What is missing, however, is an engaging way to actually test and experiment with that knowledge.
Think about how you learned to ride a bike. Before you tried, your parents probably told you, 'Push the pedals, steer and don't fall over.' While you might have understood this in theory, you probably had to try and fall a few times before you could actually make it around the block.
Learning to deal with personal finances is the same. Simply knowing how to handle money doesn't necessarily lead to financially responsible behavior. Behavioral economists refer to this disconnect as the “last mile problem” - with some things, information alone won't trigger or change certain behavior. In these cases, people need to try things out and see how their knowledge works in practice, before they really learn how to do things properly.
We co-develop Kicked Out! with psychologists, debt counselors and behavioral economists, in order to try to make the game play mirror real-life scenarios. That is, the game will trigger psychological patterns of buying and spending behavior. Players will get a feeling for what life really costs, experience the actual consequences of personal financial decisions and learn how to avoid over-indebtedness.
First and foremost, our game will be fun. We have been testing even our most crude prototype with teens, in order to get a feeling for what they really love to play. During our initial testing, children achieved fantastic results playing Kicked Out! and simply loved the game dynamic and its overall mechanics. With regard to the learning aspect, we agree with thinkers like Jane McGonigal, who see the evident educational potential of computer games - especially when it comes to behavioral patterns. It is proven that players of widely played games (eg. Word of Warcraft) display a higher ability to multitask or to think strategically. Also, specific studies have shown that children and young adults who play games like Halo, score higher when tested for hand-eye coordination. These skills are required to win the game, and through repetition, players learn them intuitively. With Kicked Out! it will be the same - we will integrate learning effects that will occur, because the gameplay is so fun that players are willing to stick with it, until they have learned to apply them in the game. And eventually, that means they'll be fit to apply them in reality.
Current social games don't have any focus on making games with social value. I think there's a lot of room in the market for games that teach players real-life skills. In our case, we're using gaming to promote financial literacy education, but the model could be adapted to help a lot of other fields connect with an audience.
With our game we're definitely an outlier to some of the most famous (and most profitable) social games that work on pulling money out of kids' pockets for buying virtual crops and reviving dying fish. I don't want to sit here and moralize, but I don't believe in taking advantage of children, or desensitizing them to violence or promoting dubious social values for the sake of profits. And I don't think I'm going out on a limb in saying that these negative externalities are contributing to real and troubling social trends. We just want to move in a different direction.
Because you don't have to do something good to make money. All you have to do is make something that's fun and goes viral. Marketing and developing games requires an enormous amount of money, which has to come from somewhere, and it's sources - whether they're individual investors or companies - expect a return on their investment. Doing a game that's fun, profitable, and has an positive impact…it's a delicate balance, and for whatever reasons, not too many firms have tried. But this doesn't mean that there's not a market, or even a huge market, for such games. You can already see a move toward making 'good' games emerging in the indie game development community, and there's clear support for these kinds of projects on Kickstarter. So things are changing, and we plan to be a part of that change.
The primary purpose of Kicked Out! is to measurably decrease the number of young people going unwittingly into financial debt. That being said, in order to keep our product focused on this goal, we need to be financially independent. Therefore we are working on a portfolio of revenue streams that will add up to breaking us even. That means, we mix tools such as creative in-game product placement, freemium models, and fair-value micro payments. We also want Kicked Out! to be free from the beginning, and therefore we try to raise funds through Kickstarter rather than private investment.
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