Just got back from DevLearn08 in San Jose, California. The conference was really well-attended. I brought back some great ideas, met some new people and gained some insight into the science of play.


Moneytopia – An Immersive Learning Simulation

We presented a session called “Immersive Learning Simulations,” and it seemed to be a big success. We showed “Moneytopia – the Big Dream,” an immersive learning simulation we produced for FINRA. The personal finance game was modeled after the Sims and the Game of Life. Players choose an avatar to play in the game, choose their friends who will provide advice along the way, then outfit their world in the Dream Machine. The Dream Machine is this big vending machine in the sky, where players can purchase their home, car, furniture, TV, PC, as well as their “Big Dream.” Time is accelerated in the game, so if the player lives beyond his/her means, the Repo Man cometh and taketh everything away. If the player runs out of money and out of time, they lose the game. But stay on budget and on track for retirement and they win their Big Dream and the game.


Ruining People’s Lives at DemoFest

The game was selected for this year’s DemoFest, and I had a blast ruining people’s lives. DevLearn attendees would unwittingly wander by Table 5, and I’d set them up in the game. First they’d pick an avatar with a modest $30,000 annual income, and then I’d take them through the Dream Machine. We’d choose the mansion to live in, the expensive Italian sports car, the fancy bling, and before you knew it, they were thrown out Moneytopia. It was great fun. How often do you get to make all those bad decisions?

And I think that’s the fun of an immersive learning simulation. You can learn a lot by losing, big. It was interesting too when we’d play another round, those same players would instinctively be more cautious about their purchases, checking their finances, reviewing the tutorials, blah, blah, blah. That made it a little less fun for me, but I wonder if that meant that the game made a bit of an impact. Will those players think twice before buying the 60″ Flat panel I picked out for them? It’s hard to tell. The problem with game-based learning, and any kind of learning program, is that it’s difficult to measure long-term behavior change, and since that’s what really matters, we constantly need to seek out research.

If you’d like to learn about game based learning from Digitec Interactive, visit our eLearning page.

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