Given the bad press the industry has received in recent years concerning excessive spending, usually by children, on microtransactions, a game that teaches kids to better understand money should be welcomed with open arms by the industry.
And today high-street bank Natwest, working with Scottish indie developer Stormcloud, has launched just such a title. And it’s no PC-only effort as well, with Island Saver being launched as a full multiplatform title on PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch, as well as Steam.
Designed for 7-12 year olds, the title “harnesses children’s enthusiasm for video games as an opportunity to teach them about money management.” The title is free to download and come alongside research from the bank saying “a third (32%) of parents say computer and phone games influence their children’s ideas of money and how to spend it.”
Thom Kenrick, Head of Social Strategy and Programmes at NatWest, commented: “Helping young people better understand money began with the launch of our MoneySense Programme in schools more than 25 years ago. Island Saver is a natural progression of this – especially at a time when parents are looking for free, at-home educational resources, and kids are looking for entertainment.
“Our own research found that the majority (53%) of parents said that lack of interest was a challenge when it comes to teaching children about money. Island Saver is the perfect solution – an open world, production quality game that is as fun and entertaining, as it is educational.”
The first-person title is non-violent and based on an open world. The player is tasked with cleaning up the island environment with a ‘trash blaster’ taking on litterbugs that have polluted the island paradise.
Woven into the gameplay are learning opportunities. These range from a simple ‘work to earn’ as characters earn coins by cleaning up litter, to saving money in bank accounts. As players progress through the game they are introduced to the more advanced elements of money management including paying tax to maintain the idyllic Island setting, borrowing money, and even elements of foreign exchange.
Good to see that paying tax is part of the title, glad to see that the ‘island’ setting wasn’t a haven of the evasive kind.
Frank Arnot from Stormcloud said: “Our design vision for Island Saver was to create a fun, family-friendly, full-scale game. We knew it had to be a game that was educational, and we also wanted to weave in a positive environmental message. It’s not always easy to make finance fun – but we’re really proud of what we have created.”
The game is free to play, but two £4 expansion packs are available, with all proceeds going to two charities – Young Money and SpecialEffect. The game will be further supported by learning tools such as activity sheets and an online glossary of terms for parents.