Cash Crunch Games entrepreneur Paul Vasey just shakes his head. As a teacher of personal finance in the U.K., he heard—loud and clear—that teaching personal finance was difficult because of the math. “It’s not math,” he protested. “It’s money.” Paul set out to overcome this perception, and the delightful result is Cash Crunch Games.
Cash Crunch 101, designed for teenagers, is available as a download, as a web-based game, and as an app. Paul is passionate about the game and about its possibilities. “If you can understand something, you can explain it,” he points out. “Gamification is a great way of explaining what goes on. I came up with the game to basically get over the hurdle of saying that money is math, and the best way to get a conversation going is through gamification.”
Players select an avatar and receive a list of expenses—a budget—as well as an income. The game provides the player opportunities to earn extra money, chances to save money on purchases, and occasional nasty little surprises. “The emphasis on our game is on saving first and spending later, rather than investment,” Paul says. “One of the objectives of the game is actually to save money.”
As a former teacher, Paul is also passionate about generating conversations. He offers the game free to teachers to use in their classrooms. “The game can be used in a way where it will fit in with any personal finance program out there,” he says. Playing the game is an excellent diagnostic tool and Paul recommends that teachers use the game in the beginning of the class to find out what students know, and then at the end of the term to assess what they have learned in the class. Paul finds that offering the game free to teachers is deeply rewarding but sometimes frustrating. “The most difficult part, I find, is trying to get it into the schools. I’m offering it free…quite often people think, where’s the catch?” On the other hand, helping teachers to overcome the “money is math” stigma makes it all worthwhile.
Naturally, Paul isn’t in the business of giving away product with no hope for profit. Future growth will come from ethical product placement. Throughout the game, there are places for companies to present their products. Case studies about these companies will make it possible for teachers to provide high-quality education about business concepts. “The product does not just appear in the game,” Paul says. “It’s used in the case studies to write about business concepts like franchising.” In addition, Paul plans to include information about careers within the companies that appear in the game. “There are more jobs at Starbucks than, say, barista,” he notes.
Cash Crunch Games has a strong social media presence. “I use Twitter a lot, Linked-In, we have our Facebook page.” In addition, Paul attends conventions and conferences. He loves to do presentations about Cash Crunch Games as he debunks the idea that money is intimidating and scary.
Check out Cash Crunch Games if you have a teenager in your life. Keep an eye out for the soon-to-be-released Cash Crunch Junior for younger kids to get the conversation started even earlier. Paul knows the challenges of opening the conversation, and his games help you overcome them.
Want to demo the game? Check out www.cashcrunchgames.com . It’s available for PC, Mac, Chromebook, iPad and Android devices. Fair warning, though: the game’s addictive!
Because it’s not math. It’s money.