Fortunately for gamers, some experts have recently suggested that video games may well provide a strong training ground for individuals—both young and old—to develop financial literacy.
Real Virtual Money
While most players will obtain the vast majority of their in-game wealth from within the game, there are often ways for players to supplement their in-game wealth by exchanging their real money for the virtual equivalent.
If you are familiar with any online gaming ecosystem, chances are you are familiar with the idea of virtual economies.
We purchase or rent the roofs above our heads, the food that goes on the table and even the entertainment we consume. Thus, it’s hard to underplay the necessity for financial skills.
But before you go and spend a small fortune on your favourite pay-to-win claiming it is a lesson in finance, let’s take a look at what these experts are saying, and how we can use that knowledge to shape games into a tool that can teach us about our financial lives.
From the get-go, this creates a strong link between virtual value and real world value, with players easily able to quantify how much their virtual horde is worth to them (and other players).
Given, this usually works in a one-way model where players can exchange real world cash for virtual currency and not the opposite. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a profound impact.
Naturally, within multiplayer spaces players want to trade. This opens up the floor for shrewd negotiating, peer-to-peer trading and system-based trading (through action houses and NPCs). Inevitably, this sees players want to see their net value increase. Whether that be in the inherent value of items, or in the easy to monitor ticker of their currency stores.
In short, financial systems are rife within modern gaming, and their fundamental presence in the multiplayer space means that players quickly become acquainted with many techniques to get the most bang for their buck. Something which is especially important when the real-world avenues for such behaviours are remarkably few and far between in the world of franchising hyper-capitalism.
That said, presence alone does not necessarily teach us valuable financial literacy. After all, if you can easily go and grind or gamble for some more gold at a moments notice, you aren’t necessarily going to learn how to be a fiscal individual. From Conversations to Implicit Mechanics
Let’s look at two examples of how implicit design can help to teach some basics of financial literacy. When playing the iconic Minecraft in survival mode, players drop all of their items when they die. Regardless of whether they were coming up against foes, were a victim of a freak natural accident or simply mis-clicked, those items are dropped on death.
Such contextualisation can come from many avenues be it from discussions with a parent or peer, or simply being implicit within the game’s design. Contextualising the in-game financial world is key to extracting strong financial skills from gameplay.