Finalist for the region South-West

Game of Bucks: Fostering Financial Competences Among Young People with a Serious Game

Financial literacy denotes an individual’s ability to understand and effectively apply finance-related skills. Despite the obvious importance of the concept in everyday life, the lack of financial literacy is a widespread phenomenon in our society. Research indicates that the latter holds particularly for teenagers. In more detail, financial literacy encompasses three facets: (i) behaviour, (ii) knowledge, and (iii) attitude. It has been shown that especially competences regarding financial behaviour are often insufficient. This finding suggests that people might benefit from interventions designed to influence the behaviour-related part of financial literacy. However, prior attempts to foster financial literacy typically tend to focus more on the aspects of knowledge and attitude. Moreover, easy-to-reach offers that address teenagers and young adults are very sparse.
Against this background, we propose the development of a serious game made for young people, which aims at exerting a positive influence on personal financial behaviour while offering an entertaining experience. Serious games (i.e., video games that do not exclusively serve the sole purpose of entertainment as such) have great potential for several educational purposes. More specifically, we aim at making use of principles of “gamification” to apply game elements to financial concepts and, as a consequence, to leverage the player’s interest in financial literacy. The basket of related elements may include, for example, rewarding the player for accomplishing tasks or unlocking virtual valuables to keep the player motivated. We aim for a typical “learning by doing” approach, which poses a very effective learning strategy as it teaches skills in a practical way and puts special emphasis on behaviour.
In the proposed game in the form of a mobile app, the player takes control of a virtual household that comes along with several finance-related decisions to be made. The player is not explicitly being taught what to do but is rather given a broad variety of choices and possibilities. Examples include finding a job to generate some income or applying for a loan for a car. The player’s options and game elements are designed to cover six different learning topics, each with specific knowledge for the player to learn: insurance, contracts, taxes, investment, banking, and loans. Instead of providing the player with a clear predefined learning path, players are free to acquire their knowledge through trial and error by themselves and to apply it directly within the context of the simulated household. The complexity of the game in terms of decisions and actions to choose from gradually increases with game progress and the amount of money to be administered.
The overarching objective of the game is to complete all challenges (so-called “quests”) for all six learning topics, which tie in with the specific learning goals. A long-lasting motivation of the player is ensured by means of virtual awards (i.e. stars) for each completed challenge. As an additional strategic element, the player cannot perform an unlimited amount of actions at once but is rather limited by a certain amount of “energy”. That is, players must strategically invest their available energy into money, but also the ” character’s happiness, to reach further progress. This game element is supposed to reflect the limits of human capability and implies a realistic causal relationship between personal well-being and financial success.
To sum up, our proposal is supposed to create an easily accessible, widely available, and free-of-charge solution to a widespread societal issue that eventually has an impact on an individual’s real-world behaviour. To this end, we specifically seek to cooperate with organisations from both academia and practice that may support us in the implementation and financing of our concept. While our team is well-positioned to further work on the design

Their YES! topic

Financial Literacy: Learning Beyond the Curriculum – Lessons for Life

von Sarah Reiter, Carla Rhode, Tanja Stitteneder und Markus Zimmer, ifo Institute – Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich

“I’m almost 18 and don’t know anything about taxes or rent or insurance. But I can write a poem analysis. In four languages.” (Student from Cologne, 17 years)

Perhaps you know this quote from a 17-year-old schoolgirl from Cologne, or maybe you have a similar experience? What the student describes can be summarised in a broader sense under the term “financial literacy” and includes knowledge about planning and managing one’s finances, investments and loans as well as knowledge about economically relevant concepts such as compound interest calculation or risk diversification. The level of understanding of financial literacy varies considerably across population groups and countries (see Lusardi and Mitchell, 2011b; Atkinson and Messy, 2012; Klapper et al. 2015; OECD/INFE 2016).

Already 2000 years ago, the Roman writer and philosopher Lucius Seneca- with the statement “it is not for school but for life that we learn” – criticised the schools of his time. Although, of course, a lot has changed in the education system over the years. But even today the curricula in Germany hardly include any subjects that deal with the topics of everyday adult life (e.g. organising private finances, preparing tax returns, concluding contracts and individual insurance policies, retirement provisions).

In recent years, new media and technologies have strongly influenced the educational and knowledge transfer landscape. Thanks to the Internet, we now have access to a wide variety of content outside the curriculum or lecture hall at relatively low cost and in relatively little time. For us, this means filtering out precisely the right option from a range of countless products, advertisements, websites, experience reports, ratings and forums. Triggered by the global financial and economic crisis, more and more institutions such as banks and commercial service providers are now also becoming involved in the field of financial education. Since it cannot be ruled out that information materials from such institutions sometimes serve their interests, it is not clear to what extent these materials can be trusted (Fuhrmann 2013).

There are many areas with which (young) adults are confronted again and again in the course of their lives. To promote lifelong learning in addition to learning for school, these “lessons for life” should also be addressed as early as possible.

How can financial literacy be promoted at an early stage to give young people a successful start to adult life in this respect as well? What could be a sustainable proposal to teach this content and perhaps also offer adults an opportunity to learn more about finance, insurance and the like?