Game Based Learning: Financial Literacy Skills from Mindblown Labs

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game based learningGuest post from a terrific game based learning company, MIndblown Labs:

Mindblown Labs (MBL) is an educational gaming start-up that creates mobile social games to empower teens and young adults with critical 21st century skills. The company’s first game, Mindblown Life, is a mobile, life-simulation game that harnesses irreverent humor and social interactions among players to help them develop financial literacy skills. In the game, players create an avatar, choose a career, and manage their own virtual lives where everything, from clothing and housing to career progression and social life, is customizable. Students play reflex-based mini-games to earn “Money,” “Skill,” and “Reputation,” which help them move through their fantasy lives and careers. There is no set path through Mindblown Life: everything is based on the player’s decisions!

95% of high school students graduate financially illiterate. The average college graduate has $30K in debt and is unemployed or underemployed. Hundreds of millions of Americans are financially illiterate and have bleak futures as a result. Mindblown Life is a highly-scalable financial literacy solution capable of reaching tens of millions of students and young adults.

Financial literacy is a skill that takes time to develop. In creating Mindblown Life, the team’s main operating philosophy was to develop a game that would be fun enough to keep students engaged over an extended period of time. By playing the game during the course of several weeks and/or months, in short bursts of time each day, students will apply the knowledge that they gain multiple times in multiple scenarios throughout the game, resulting in skills. We want players to lose themselves playing the game; then stop, look up, and realize that they can evaluate a loan’s interest rate in real terms, and that they know three steps they can take to raise their credit score this month. The money management skills will thus be the happy by-products of an incredible gaming experience.

The MBL Team has already tested Mindblown Life with hundreds of high school and college students. Although the game is relatively early in its development process, the initial testing results have been very promising. Students are actively playing Mindblown Life for extended periods in their free time, without prompting by teachers, parents, or other adults. In interviews and surveys, students cite the following aspects of the game as very exciting: ability to make a lot of progress in one’s career in a short amount of time; great amount of freedom and creativity that they are afforded; and highly engaging nature of the mini-games. Indeed, the quantitative data that we have collected suggest that Mindblown Life is as engaging as some of the best mobile games.

Giving young people the skills they need to be successful in life is at the heart of everything that MBL does. Mindblown Labs was founded after Jason Young realized that a lot of people, regardless of their education level or socioeconomic class, are clueless about personal finance and budgeting. During the financial crisis, Jason coached many young adults on downsizing their lifestyles and gaining control of their finances.

Tracy Moore, MBL’s Director of Business Development, dedicated himself to founding and managing a leadership-focused non-profit for underserved, urban youth in the Cincinnati area for 5 years. Together, Young and Moore recruited other technical professionals to create the Hidden Genius Project, a non-profit which teaches app development and entrepreneurship  to Oakland, black male youths.  During the summer, the students – many of whom had no prior development experience – in this program built their own app for the iOS platform.

MBL have launched a Kickstarter Campaign to support the Launch of Mindblown Life.  Check them out!

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