Ignition72

Case Study

NCUA “Hit The Road” Financial Literacy Game

Opportunity

The National Credit Union Administration is known for engaging families and communities to establish local relationships for their Credit Union members. To continue their education approach and increase awareness of money management concepts for a new generation of account holders, we were asked to create an opportunity for children to learn about credit unions and financial literacy through an online game.

The parameters of the project were explored during our Strategy First™ sessions, with the following framework being defined:

  • Do not use old or exclusionary technologies like Flash. Use browser standard HTML5 and allow it to be tablet and touch friendly
  • Game should provide 25-35 minutes of engagement
  • It must be compliant with Section 508 to allow access to all
  • The audience would be youth aged 7-12 years and have representations of all ethnicities and physical dispositions
  • Players should earn and spend money, have a timeline of goals as well as opportunities to have experiences, and learn new things, all while having fun
  • A final report card on how the player performed would sum up the experience and provide a portable memento of the game
  • The goal: to teach financial literacy to kids without them realizing it

Process

The Ignition72 team prepared several high level concepts that approached the opportunity from different angles. Being avid gamers, we had plenty of experience to draw from. The following key components of the game were defined through close collaboration with the client:

  • Choose from many different characters, each possessing different skill sets that would impact the game outcome
  • Have the game concept be built around teenagers paying for a trip to go skiing, and they must earn money along the way
  • Allow players to be exposed to concepts such as Opportunity Cost, Balancing your Checkbook, Financial Planning (managing a budget), Loan Management (being responsible for a loan and a payment schedule), and more in a game play environment
  • Provide opportunities to make money, leveraging character skills whenever possible
  • Create wildcards where bad things happen that can be mitigated with forward planning
  • Tempt the player with diversions, including sightseeing, purchasing souvenirs and more, to demonstrate the importance of a budget and financial restraint

The game was fully mapped out to allow the Ignition72 team to create detailed storyboards and game mechanics documents. These documents were provided to the NCUA team to facilitate review and approval prior to the build out of the game.

Solution

Rather than build the game completely from scratch, the Ignition72 development team leveraged the Impact game engine to provide a core framework.

Ignition72 then:

  • Sketched out character concepts, which were scanned and built out in Illustrator
  • Created landscape and cityscape artwork to reference the actual location of the player, while serving up interesting facts and tidbits about each location
  • Composed original music to act as a backdrop during the game
  • Developed the game core at which point player skills and external variables were adjusted to maximize the fun, while making it realistic as possible

Conclusion

The game was launched in June 2013. As of April 2014, the game has introduced key concepts to over 6,800 children, many in the context of their classroom or at a Credit Union. The game is fully built in HTML5 and Javascript, and is fully Section 508 compliant.

Even though the game is one complete unit, it was designed and built to allow for future enhancements, either making more difficult levels, or adding in different trips or adventure scenarios. You can play the game at: http://tinyurl.com/Ignition72NCUA

A letter of thanks from NCUA

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