As joblessness and underemployment force many Americans to live on credit, it’s becoming especially important to educate young people about responsible saving and spending. A new video game from MTV’s college-focused web site, mtvU, aims to do just that.
Teenagers and college students often take cues from their peers when it comes to shopping for clothes, accessories, gadgets and games. Even as most of America is reining in their spending, some kids may still develop serious shopping habits, even though they may be short on cash. The solution is usually plastic.
Teaching Saving and Spending
Seemingly unmanageable debt has even led a few troubled young people to suicide, but better education could teach kids how to avoid the pressures of debt and, if they’re already deep in the red, how to get rid of it.
For young people to get a jump on personal financial education, MTV (Stock Quote: VIA) launched Debt Ski, a video game that features a happy piggy bank on a jet ski gathering coins and paying for necessities as well as luxury items. The pig, who also starts with a line of credit, navigates through a series of obstacles in order to maximize his savings, limit his debt and maintain his happiness level, which can be boosted by purchases but can plummet with severe debt.
Spending tsunamis, which represent unexpected life events leading to health expenses or cost of living increases, are the biggest threat to the piggy’s future and could significantly decrease savings or increase debt.
The problem with the game is, the pig can buy whatever he wants in the game, and the only major warning sign appears after the fact (when you lose the game), which can often happen in real life when you look at your credit card bill. The plain truth is that a game like Debt Ski isn’t going to provide anyone with any significant fiscal education. MTV, however, hopes that the game will gain popularity and drive young people to their financial education portal, Indebted.com, which has info about about saving, spending, credit cards, personal and government debt and their future impact. Debt Ski itself may not be a great financial tool (although it is pretty addictive), but at least MTV's heart seems to be in the right place.
“It’s never too early to start learning these principles,” says Ross Martin, senior vice president of development and production for MTV360. “We absolutely think the game will have mass appeal and permeate younger age groups as well. Embeddable and designed to spread virally, Debt Ski leverages the power of online gaming to reach young people everywhere online, from social networks to blogs,” says Martin.