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HindustanTimes Sat,23 Aug 2014

Play online, learn financial basics

Saurabh Kumar, Hindustan Times   December 14, 2012
First Published: 23:11 IST(14/12/2012) | Last Updated: 23:13 IST(14/12/2012)

Imagine learning a lesson or two in investing while playing football. Indranil Chatterjee, 29, a Kolkata-based marketing executive with a public sector entity, does so, literally. A pro at football computer games ever since he was in school, the latest in his collection of football games is Financial Football.

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"Though this is not the same as any advanced version of a football game but it is fun because I get to learn a few things related to my finances. I get three options while making a shot-easy, medium and hard. Whichever I select, I get a question to answer according to the difficulty level chosen," says Chatterjee. Some of the questions that pop up during the game include "what is rule of 72?", "which debt should you pay off first?", among others. Be it banking, insurance or financial planning, Chatterjee answers a question and adds a bit to his financial education. However, all the questions in this particular game are not relevant to India as it is not customised for India. Nonetheless, the basics remain the same.

Financial games
Financial Football is just one among several financial games. For those keen to upgrade their financial education skills, there are other games including Countdown to Retirement and Road Trip to Savings available at www.practicalmoneyskills.com.

In Countdown to Retirement, you can choose a character such as a cube dweller or a nurse, whichever comes closest to your profession, and play the game. It is specific to retirement planning. You can feed in your monthly income and allocations towards various things such as the kind of accommodation you have and how much money you will put towards retirement corpus. Then the game takes you through your life (your age supposedly progresses) and depending on the age and the events happening at that age, and finally it lets you know the corpus you would be able to accumulate at the time of retirement.

However, this again is not customised for the Indian set up and lacks educational value. In the Indian context what comes close is Retirement Game offered by ICICI Prudential Life Insurance.

Here the famous character Chintamani from the company's television advertisement will ask questions about your lifestyle and will estimate how many years after retirement you are expected to live. He will then ask about savings habits and will ultimately let you know how much more savings you need to make to maintain your current lifestyle and practices throughout your life.

Unlike Countdown to Retirement, Chintamani will only let you proceed if you key in your mobile number and email ID.

"Personal data captured in this tool is used for calculation purposes and to make appropriate recommendations that are relevant to the user's profile," says Tarun Chugh, chief distribution officer, ICICI Prudential Life. However, you can opt not to authorise representatives to contact you by clicking and unmarking the relevant checkbox.

Road Trip to Savings is a car race where you need to make enough savings to pay for insurance and fuel by doing productive work, such as delivering milk or newspaper.

The good thing is...
Very neat, but do they work? Though there is no data available on efficacy, these games are an effective way of engaging a person to know and learn things that he otherwise may find it difficult to. Since these are not plain text and complex numbers, people of any age group can play them. "Games attempts to deliver an experience to the user and make the task of financial planning engaging," says Chugh.

In fact, there are certain financial games that are targeted for a certain section of the demography. For instance, GeniRevolution is a game that is especially targeted for teenagers and young adults. It gives you the option to assemble a team of experts and solve financial problems of other characters in the game.

"The response for many games and apps has been very encouraging. Apps on tax and retirement have been able to engage customers and prospects. With the advent of the app world, taking such games to consumers has become more feasible and it allows customers and prospects to do the calculations as per their convenience," adds Chugh.

...however
What can put one off, however, is the graphic quality of these games. Apart from a few, most games are developed on a platform that does not offer high quality gaming both in terms of visuals and speed.

Also, the problem is with availability and visibility. "It is very difficult to get such games, especially good ones. I am a finance professional but know of a few. It is still to take-off in India," says Surya Bhatia, managing partner, Asset Managers.

Another issue is with the target audience. For instance, the Financial Football game though good in content is very basic in terms of graphics. "Though I know that it is not a real game but still after a point of time I lose interest as it proceeds slowly," says Chatterjee. On the other hand, if this game is given to young kids who are new to the gaming world and are not used to high quality graphics, the questions may be too tough for them.

Nonetheless, these games can be used to enhance knowledge and brush up some basics that one tends to forget. But do not go by their results completely. Use your own discretion and then come to a conslusion.


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