Wednesday, July 16th, 2008...3:31 pm

Just-in-time notes and your finances

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Berkman Fellow Gene Koo hosted a great discussion about finances and games last night as a part of his Valuable Games series. The big takeaway was that it’s quite difficult to make a game that promotes good financial practices, since games feed you instant gratification and that’s absolutely not a thing that encourages longterm planning.

One of the simpler approaches to gaming discussed was compelling saving by charging for play time, coin-op style. You rig your kid’s xbox up to a laundromat-style quarter acceptor, and deposit any money into 2-year savings bonds. Here’s a coin-op wifi node. No real values are transmitted with that, though.

A different approach, not really a game, involves parsing your spending history for patterns and pushing reminders to you just in time. So if you consistently spend $3 between 9 and 10am on weekdays at a place called “Primo Coffee”, the system sends you a text message at 8:50am that says “You can save $3 by not spending money at Primo Coffee today”. And if you do it, you get a neat congratulatory message at 10:10am. (Adam Holland might suggest that it also reward you with a new piece of gear for your character on some MMORPG)

Or what if regular exercise on a bicycle connected to Mario Kart on the Wii at an approved gym reduced your insurance premiums?

D2D Fund, a nonprofit, is looking at running non-digital “games”with the same allure as the lottery through local credit unions (they’re starting up in Michigan), but lottery laws make it difficult for an institution other than the state to take peoples’ money through games of chance. Prize Linked Savings

Matt Hampel

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