I am a gamer. All my life, I've been a fan of games of all types. I've played Dungeons and Dragons since I was in the third grade. During 2000 and 2001, Kris and I had marathon bridge sessions with another couple at least once a week. I used to host monthly game nights during which my friends and I played the latest and greatest European board games. For a while, I played in chess tournaments. And, of course, I've long been addicted to videogames.
No surprise then than I was happy to participate in a recent panel discussion at the IGDA summit, a conference for game developers. The topic? Practical personal finance. The other members of this panel were Courtney Stanton (of Subatomic Studios) and Mike Sellers (of Kabam). The panel was moderated by Dan Scherlis.
I didn't know the other panel members before the conference started. Because we'd never met, we spent a couple of hours beforehand preparing our talking points. I was impressed by how my colleagues tied everything back to gaming. Over and over again, they talked about the “gamification of personal finance”.
The Gamification of Personal Finance
The “gamification of personal finance” simply means using money management techniques based on game design principles.
Think of your favorite games — especially video games. What makes them fun? What makes you want to play again? How can these elements be extracted from game design and used in real life? In this case, for promoting smart personal finance?
At first, I thought the idea sounded silly. But I quickly realized that I've subconsciously been using game design principles to help me cut spending, boost income, get out of debt, and build wealth. My own approach to money management has been game-based for the past seven years, but I haven't realized it until now.
During our discussion, Stanton talked about her own experience with debt repayment, about how it felt like she would “level up” whenever she paid off a credit card or a loan. This kept her motivated to continue.
Dan Scherlis, our moderator, made an interesting point. Even as we're trying to “win” the game of personal finance, there are folks on the other side trying to beat us. The credit card companies, the transnational corporations, and even the professionals who are supposed to be on your side — they're all trying to game you, trying to get as much money out of you as they can. (This is exactly why I'm always saying that nobody cares more about your money than you do.)