Online Game: Spent (2014). Created by the ad agency McKinney for Urban Ministries of Durham, this innovative game about surviving poverty and homelessness was named the best game or app at the 16th Annual Webby Awards.
This online, simulation game strives to present the challenges of making money choices for those on the edge of, or mired in poverty. The setup is pretty straight forward. You have lost your job, you have a child to care for, you are a single parent and now you are down to your last $1,000.00. The question is, can you find a new job and make it through the next thirty days?
Navigating through the game is fairly simple. You click on the choice you want to make whenever the game presents you with a selection. Of course each choice, each fork in the road, leads to potentially different consequences.
As you progress through the game, you are provided with visual indications such as how much money you have left and your progress through the month. Additionally, there are a series of icons you can select if you get particularly desperate.
Many people might never consider a payday loan or donating plasma – something I have done – when faced with satisfying competing financial obligations or simply in a pinch. From time to time, you are also given the opportunity to ask a friend for help. How many of us have gone there before, asked a friend or family member for a loan to hold us over? I know I have.
While some of the criticism – e.g. the lack of other viable options at various points and some predictability – of Spent is probably warranted, I believe the creator’s intent – to show the constant bombardment of financial choices, and the consequences of actions chosen — or not chosen — can be overwhelming for those on the financial edge – comes through. For far too many Americans, there simply aren’t any good options.
The wife and I played through a couple different times – it only takes about 15 minutes – and while we made it through the month without depleting our $1,000, we made a lot of choices we would have liked to avoided.
And you SavvyReader, what are your impressions of Spent?