A lot of the finance community shun video games. They eat up time, sure. But they’re also a fun, escapist pass time for many people. There are some games that have more benefits than being a fun pass time and improving ‘twitch reflexes’, however. It’s a known fact that play improves creativity. The more we’re able to use fluid intelligence, the more we can apply this to our financial pursuits.
Some games can have the added benefit of improving your adaptability, right brain thinking or your general ability to handle stress. In a dynasty sense, this improves the quality of your human capital.
Managing your finances is all about right brain thinking – how you can get more out of the situation you’re in, or improve upon it. Sometimes you have to work with what you have, other times you have to make opportunities happen.
There are games out there that help conceptualize this, even if it’s a bit abstracted. Through their gamified mechanics, we can train our brains to be better at managing our finances. I’ve listed 3 games below that will help you become better at managing your finances.
1. This Grand Life
I found This Grand Life pretty recently. In it, you take the role of a character of your design. You set your goals based on limits: Happiness, Wealth, Knowledge and Possessions. While striving to achieve these goals, you must manage your characters’ needs; happiness, food, fun, health & hygiene. This is done by spending the time in your week(and money, ofc).
You choose your characters starting position and attributes. Your character might start with a figurative silver spoon, or they could be an impoverished divorcee with alimony payments that need to be made.
Your ultimate goal is to fill your goal meters until all are complete while not starving to death or becoming unhappy to the point of a breakdown. Harder than it sounds. You’ll be having to react to random events, take control of your finances and purchasing decisions, all while making sure you don’t run out of time.
The Grand Life’s Benefits
At This Grand Life’s heart, it is a time management game. You only get so many hours each week to allocate to the multitude of things to make a grand life. Maybe it’s worth skipping a meal or two this week so you can afford that college degree. Or maybe you have employees to pay but that new motorbike would cut down your travel. So much so that you’d be able to work more time in your job to pay your employees while you set up your new business. Just like real life, a lot of your decisions impact your financial security. Your character will need a means of income, be it a job or a business(or metal detecting at the park). You’ll need to balance work and life, making sure you pay your bills on time whilst not going crazy in the process. Save enough and dabble in the stock market or purchase a rental property, or set up a second business once you put for first under management, there’s always that option too.
You set the limits so you can make the game as challenging as you like. Specifically, if you set the financial limit to the maximum and set yourself up with low starting resources, you have a good set of circumstances to practice your financial management and time balancing skills. You can also modify the economic varibles too. You can make it so it’s steady and predictable, or have there be wild swings in inflation or interest rates. You can focus on working up the career ladder or become an entrepreneur. Studying while ensuring you have enough to live on will put your skills to the test. Financing a plumbing startup, eventually putting your profits to rentals and stocks while making sure you have enough left for tax is all a part of “This Grand Life”.
This Grand Life is grounded in a quasi-reality. The art style isn’t quite to my taste, but this is the only game I can play as a smoking dog with alcoholism that runs his own law practice and donates 80% of his income to charity. Good Boy.
Rimworld is probably my favorite game of all time. The basic premise is you assume the hive mind role of a colony of survivors on a planet on the outer reaches of space – hence the name ‘Rimworld’. You take semi-direct control of the colonists, trying to manage their resources while meeting their basic(and not so basic) needs.
How you achieve this, is really up to you. You can drive them to a basic subsistence, harvesting berries, and hunting roaming herds of animals with spears and bows. Or, you can build up a real industry, manufacturing advanced weaponry, automated turrets, modern comforts and electronics.
The colonists each have personalities and attributes and thus minds of their own, you can only direct them so far. This leads to some pretty interesting interactions, fights, and cooperation. From a drug addicted, ex-military chef with a pining for all of their limbs to be replaced for bionic ones, to a neurotic, mute poet who refuses to do anything but sculpt. Oh, and the two are worst enemies, but need each other to survive the harsh climate of the desert. The combos and outcomes are endless.
Rimworld is a game of micromanagement, resource development, and preparation. You can go at just about any pace you want, the game will remain challenging thanks to its clever AI and constantly throw challenges at you, to which you have to adapt.
As your skill in the game grows, you can up the anti, and increase the challenge, making you think of new and creative ways to manage resources and solve problems. You might have a roaming band of peeved, manhunting elephants siege your colony. Bunker down, or take up arms and score some food and ivory? Pirates may air raid your base, will they spell your doom or meet their own? Could they be prisoners to sell, new colonists or food for a desperate colony who lost their potato harvest to blight? Things get crazy at times.
I always try to put my colonists in the roughest position and try to work my way out of it. Last I played, I started on a desolate ice tundra and gradually worked towards abundance through carefully managing what little I had. Carving out a position in a frozen mountain, huddling around a tiny campfire made from buring furniture. Eventually, I had wind turbines powering heaters, hydroponics bays for my food, and was selling drugs I grew and manufactured in these caverns to space pirates for more resources to grow my economy further.
The game has a huge modding community as wel, so you can add anything from Lovecraftian Cults to Beekeeping.
Rimworld helps you be flexible and attempt to find a way, even when the odds are stacked against you. You have to make do with what you have. It’s incredibly fun too.
3. Fortune Street
Fortune Street is like Monopoly on steroids. Only available on the Wii, this single player, or couch co-op game pits players against one another in a battle for control of property, neighborhoods, and stocks on one of a plethora of unique board game like levels. The basic goal is to achieve a predetermined value of wealth before all other players or bankrupt the other players. Players travel around the board, collecting ‘suits'(like the cards) and returning to the bank. Doing this gives them a cash injection, to further invest in their empire.
As more wealth enters the game, players get to purchase properties. Properties can be further upgraded by investing money in them. Each of these belongs to one of several neighborhoods. The more properties in the neighboorhood a player owns, the more they can invest in them. Owning all 4 properties in a block gives players huge room to expand their empire, but still requires massive investment upfront.
With most of these properties, when owned, if other players land on them they must pay its owner a fixed amount. Some properties can be specifically built for other purposes. Toll gates, for example, mean that players have to pay a toll just for passing through, rather than when they land on it, this creates a reliable income source for players that own them. There are other squares on the board that let you pick up chance cards, which can be positives or negatives. Properties can be traded to other players for gold(the currency) or other properties. There’s a tonne of variety, and the games never feel like they get too long – if anything, they’re too short! The AI in this game is a bit simple once you get to know it, so it’s best played with other people.
Fortune Street’s Benefits
The real meta game comes when you start delving into stocks. Other than property, you can buy stocks in entire neighborhoods, which increase and decrease in value based on the performance of the neighborhood you own shares in. If a player invests into a neighborhood, the value of the stock increases, if stocks are sold or a property is sold or goes derelict, the value of the stock decreases. When players must pay for landing on a property a dividend is granted to shareholders.
By developing an understanding of this, you can outmaneuver other players on the board regardless of how bad of a start you had. If they have dominance in a neighborhood, you can purchase a lot of shares in it, if they choose to upgrade properties, you may wind up being the huge benefactor instead. Don’t forget about holding a cash position, you wouldn’t want to land on a player’s sweet shop to have to pay them 3000 gold only to find you have to liquidate assets resulting in a distressed sale. You’d much rather be a buyer than a seller in this situation. Moments like these are the huge payoff that can be game changers.
Fortune street teaches us to be strategic and flexible with our finances. Wealth is never a competition mindset, but the randomness and other peoples decisions can throw curve-balls in the mix but you can overcome these difficulties through sheer skill and strategy.
Fortune Street helps you calculate odds, find opportunity and balance a varied portfolio of assets.
Games are a fun way to spend a bit of downtime. Playing games can have the benefits on the brain as an added benefit, and this fact shouldn’t be discredited. Not all games are this way. Some games, like Halo and Call of Duty, sit firmly in the ‘twitch reflex’ defense argument – there’s nothing wrong with that either – in moderation. Just don’t go screaming obscenities at 13-year-old boys.
So what games do you play that might help your financial pursuits? Have you played any of the above? Games not your thing? Let me know in the comments below.