< Back to Blog

Using Video Games to Foster Financial Literacy

Financial literacy is a critical skill that empowers individuals to navigate the complex world of money and make informed decisions. It’s a skill that can have a profound impact on one’s life, yet traditional approaches to teaching financial literacy, such as lectures or textbooks, can often be dry and uninspiring, especially to young learners. 

via Giphy

But what if there was a more engaging and interactive way to develop this essential knowledge? Enter video games –  gaming offers a unique and effective avenue for fostering financial literacy. In this article, we’ll explore how video games can play a pivotal role in financial education and why they are a valuable addition to the quest for financial empowerment!

(Hey, you! Quick request – take a minute to follow us on X and Facebook to see more articles like this one in your feed.)

What is financial literacy?

Before we explore the connection between financial literacy and video games, let’s make it clear exactly what we’re discussing. Financial literacy, a term often mentioned but not always fully understood, encompasses the knowledge and skills required to make sound financial decisions. 

At its core, it’s about understanding money—how to earn, save, invest, spend, and protect it. This critical skill empowers individuals to navigate the complex financial landscape, whether it’s managing personal finances, making investment choices, or planning for the future. A financially literate individual comprehends concepts like budgeting, debt management, savings, investing, and the importance of financial security. 

Moreover, they can analyze financial products, make informed decisions, and protect themselves from fraud. In essence, financial literacy is a fundamental tool for achieving financial well-being, and it paves the way for making informed choices that enhance one’s quality of life.

A risk-free environment to learn about money

What makes video games particularly effective in educating young learners about financial literacy? Firstly, games offer a risk-free environment where they can experiment and make mistakes without real-world consequences. Many games allow players to learn through trial and error – nurturing qualities like patience, resilience, and curiosity. This quality of game-based learning makes it great for teaching a variety of subjects, but this is especially important for financial education – players don’t have to spend real money to figure out the positive or negative impacts of their choices!

In an article from CNET, writer Marcos Cabello interviews financial planner Tom Martin, who asserts that early financial education is vital for children. Since his 13 and 15-year-old kids are part of the 71% of US children under 18 who are avid gamers, he’s tapped into the financial lessons embedded in video games to bridge the gap between in-game economics and real-life money management.

Martin sees video games as an untapped resource for educating kids about money. In particular, he claims that games like Animal Crossing: New Horizons teach children about mortgages, real estate, and investment – without them even realizing it! This game also has a “stalk market,” which mimics the stock market, teaching children about the ups and downs of investing. 

via LevelPush

In addition to Animal Crossing, Cabello also writes that “Games that include some sort of in-game economy and introduce the building blocks of real-world finance are a great starting point,” and he also mentions Roblox, Civilization, and Minecraft. These games and others can serve as an educational bridge that seamlessly connects in-game economics to essential real-life money management skills!

Game design, intent, and context

Though many games indeed have in-game economies that can provide learning opportunities, not all games are equal in their ability to impart players with knowledge on financial responsibility. 

As Dr. William R. Watson, professor of learning design and technology at Purdue University and technology director of the school’s Center for Serious Games and Learning in Virtual Environments, said in an interview with Finance Magnates, “There is a strong connection between the economic system we operate within and the economic systems embedded in-game systems. There is no reason to think there isn’t a strong opportunity to learn fiscal responsibility through games. But we can’t expect it to happen accidentally. Design is about intent, and if we are designing learning environments, that intent needs to be in the forefront, not just of the mind of the designer or teacher but also in the minds of the learners.”

In this same article from Finance Magnates, the author notes that many in-game financial landscapes cultivate negotiation, peer-to-peer trading, and system-based exchanges. Within these digital environments, players learn the art of making their virtual assets work effectively, offering vital lessons that can often be scarce in the real world. However, the mere presence of financial systems in games does not inherently impart financial literacy. 

The key lies in contextualization, according to the article, which can arise from discussions with peers or parents or be intricately woven into game design. Implicit mechanics found in gameplay can instill fundamental financial principles. For example, in games like Minecraft, players lose items upon death, emphasizing the importance of secure storage, akin to safeguarding money in banks. Furthermore, MMORPGs like World of Warcraft introduce players to the concept of intermediary auction houses, demonstrating that various approaches exist for financial transactions. Games can offer lessons in not only basic financial concepts but also more complex ideas, such as gambling, rental, and interest. 

However, it’s crucial for young players in particular to engage in open discussions about in-game finances and broader financial literacy, ensuring that they recognize the game makers’ interests and real-world implications of virtual transactions. We’ve said it before, and it begs repeating: video games are not a replacement for educators! Moreover, if you want the best results, educational games designed intentionally to teach about financial literacy are your best bet. Speaking of which…

Great educational games that foster financial literacy


RoboSellers is an engaging economics and entrepreneurship learning game that we created with our client Junior Achievement. Players step into the shoes of a resourceful robo-entrepreneur embarking on intergalactic journeys to buy and sell robot parts across foreign planets while building their own custom robot business.

RoboSellers excels at teaching financial literacy due to its incorporation of key economic and entrepreneurial concepts. As players explore diverse alien worlds to locate rare inventory for profitable sales, they encounter essential ideas like evaluating costs and value, understanding the significance of money in daily life, and grasping the consequences of spending and saving money on a business’s financial success. 

This practical approach to learning immerses players in a dynamic virtual marketplace, allowing them to apply financial skills and principles in a fun and educational manner. Through this game, adolescents can develop a deeper understanding of financial concepts and entrepreneurship while honing their decision-making and money management abilities.

JA Titan

In JA Titan, players embark on an educational journey by stepping into the role of a company executive aspiring to become the leader in a competitive manufacturing sector. The game, another title we created with Junior Achievement, introduces critical economic and management decisions, offering players the opportunity to apply business leadership concepts to a simulated corporate environment. Each turn in the game corresponds to a business quarter, providing players with a realistic experience of managing a company.

By immersing players in a world where they must efficiently allocate funds, balance investor requirements, and cater to various stakeholders’ needs, JA Titan is a great financial literary education tool. As they navigate through the game’s challenges, players gain insights into the consequences of their decisions on a company’s financial performance. This hands-on approach allows adolescents to better understand how key financial decisions directly impact a company’s bottom line.

While playing, adolescent learners can hone their financial acumen, business administration skills, and critical decision-making abilities. The game provides an interactive and engaging platform for grasping complex financial concepts, making it an excellent tool for fostering financial literacy among adolescents.


Ally Financial, in collaboration with interns from historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), created Fintropolis, a virtual world in the popular video game Minecraft aimed at teaching middle school students essential financial concepts. Fintropolis offers an engaging and hands-on approach to financial literacy, addressing the declining financial literacy rates in the U.S. This game covers topics such as earning money, taxes, budgeting, credit building, debt management, and investments. Students also explore different career paths and understand how early financial decisions impact their futures. 

It’s safe to say that video games have become a valuable ally in the quest for financial empowerment, offering an exciting and effective path to financial literacy. Are you interested in creating an educational game to ensure the next generation are responsible spenders? We’re educational game developers and we want to hear about your project. Contact us today for a free consultation!

More on gaming for a better future:

© 2024 Filament games. All rights reserved.