Invest In You: Using Video Games to Teach Young Adults Real World Skills

Young adults new to the world of bills, taxes, investing, insurance, and much more often find themselves confused. Often times we criticize educational systems for not providing the skills that young adults need to survive once they’ve graduated. Well if school won’t teach you how to invest, why not try using video games to teach young adults real world skills?

Wall Street Kid

Wall Street Kid, a 1990 game for the NES, gives players a basic understanding of the stock market and investing. While the game isn’t a perfect mirror of real world investing, its a good start. Players recieve $500,000 (in the game) at the start and are expected to invest the money to earn $1 million.

If simply learning how to invest isn’t enough to motivate players, the game offers other motives for making money. A lawyer informs the player that if he or she can double their $500,000 by a four month deadline, then the player will inherit $600 billion in assets. Player can spend their in-game money in a variety of ways from shopping and eating out to  buying a home and keeping your in-game girlfriend happy.

While this game is a bit dated, it still serves as a prime example for how video-games could be used in an educational environment.

Making Games for the Future

Many games focused on learning exist, but a game that both teaches real world skills and engages players still needs to development. It may be hard to imagine how writing a check, investing money, opening a credit card, paying taxes and researching an insurance policy could make for fun game play, but it is possible. The key to doing this is to not make the game about learning, but instead make learning a small part of the game.

It wouldn’t be too weird if in a new FIFA game players could invest their money in hopes of making more to spend on better players. Maybe the next Pokémon game forces players to buy insurance for their Pokémon and provide a copay at the Pokémon Center when their team needs healing.

People may not particularly appreciate tampering with Pokémon, but the point remains: games can implement these real world skills. Hopefully developers and educators can see the potential of video games to supplement traditional learning. Just hope that it isn’t a teacher who develops the game, otherwise it may only teach players one thing: the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell.

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