Understanding the concept of money management during the early school years goes a long way in establishing core fundamental traits throughout our life. The first game that comes to mind when talking about money management is Monopoly. The popular board game that has players buying and trading property, developing them, collecting rental payments and trying to force opponents into bankruptcy. Even Monopoly Jr for children helps to reinforce basic maths whilst teaching about budgeting.
Children of all ages can use games to learn about money management and financial decision-making. Concepts learned in games help children understand cause and effect, make mistakes, and get rewarded for good decisions. Game based learning is an engaging and effective way to teach students and it can be especially useful for teaching how to manage money because it empowers children to learn from their own decisions.
ĠEMMA identifies gamification for financial capability education as extremely important and essential. Considerable research was carried out to see whether existing games in other jurisdictions could be customised for use locally. However, this was not possible as most games are in English and do not follow the Euro currency. Thus, many concepts are also not aligned to Maltese policy. ĠEMMA, therefore decided to fill this gap by teaming up with University of Malta where one of the main aims of the Memorandum of Understanding was for the Department of Artificial Intelligence to equip its students with the practical and applied knowledge in order to build a strong collaborative partnership where the main focus was on educating the general public in enhancing its financial capability awareness through gamification.
This is the concept behind the game Money Monsters. It was created by three final year students who were studying at the Department of Artificial Intelligence at the University of Malta. Money Monsters is the first result of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry for Solidarity and Social Justice, the Family and Childrens’ Rights and the University of Malta to introduce the concept of gamification within financial literacy.
Money Monsters is directed primarily towards primary school children where the objective of the game is to teach children certain money management concepts such as prioritising about needs and wants, earing an income, , budgeting and so on.
The game revolves around a Monster called Nugget who is taken across a life journey experience from the age of 18 until retirement age of 65. Throughout Nuggets’ life journey many money decisions will need to be taken which will affect how the player progresses through the game. Each action taken has an impact on Nugget’s life which gives children the opportunity to learn from their decisions which result in different outcomes. Money Monsters has lots of mini games which kids can play In a fun way.
Money Monsters has the option to be played in either Maltese or English and one can also choose to take it to a higher level.
The harder level includes the banking system which effects how one’s final score is calculated. Within the game there is also a game manual to guide one how to play the game and understand the different concepts.
The game was developed with the Education Division, the Directorate for Learning Assistance and Programs. Mrs Joanne Zammit, the Co-Ordinator Officer – Commercial Studies, supervised the game design from an educational perspective and supported in the piloting of the project in primary schools within St Nicholas College.
ĠEMMA thanks Dr Charlie Abela and Dr Joel Azzopardi at the Department of Artificial Intelligence who mentored the game design team on the data mining and gamification development process. ĠEMMA thanks the Money Monster Team who has created a first – serious educational game on financial capability set within the Maltese concept.