Washington, DC – The National Council of LaRaza (NCLR), the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States, has announced the launch of its new game,Farm Blitz, which is aimed at teaching Latinos about how debt works and stresses the importance of saving. joltleft.com was invited to see a demo of the game and to talk with NCLR’s wealth-building policy team as well as the developers of the game.
Economic Justice is an issue that is gaining greater speed as social ills like unemployment, homelessness, and hunger become an ever present reality for more and more Americans. In the push for economic justice, organizations are finding that it is not only important to fight public policy but to also educate citizens about the intricacies of money. One of the more pervasive problems in the Latino community is the lack of financial literacy education. Latinos are the fastest growing immigrant population in the United States and, according to The National Immigration Forum, 75%of them do not have bank accounts. The National Immigration Forum believes that ‘in these uncertain economic times, this kind of education is essential not only for learning to manage money during our nation’s economic crisis, but to attain wealth in order to provide for future financial security.’ NCLR shares this philosophy and, to address the issue of financial education, the organization has teamed up with the Doorways to Dreams Fund (D2D), developers of the game. NCLR and D2D are currently hosting a national tournament for the game, which will run through mid-September 2011.
Synopsis of Farm Blitz:
Watching your crops grow is fun, but watch out for the hungry bunnies ready to munch if your debt gets out of control! Quickly match the same kind of veggies in a row to cash them in, and save to plan for emergencies such as time warps and other ‘natural’ disasters. Combining the most popular casual game mechanic in the world, a Match-3 puzzle game, with financial education content, Farm Blitz has an addictive, immersive quality.
So, now that you’re addicted you might as well make the game a learning experience? FarmBlitz will teach you, both in Spanish and English, about:
• The power of compound interest, both positive and negative;
• The value of low-interest, long-term savings; and
• The perils of high-interest, short-term debt.
The more interesting thing about the game is that it seems to resonate most with Latinas in their 20s and 30s. Since women are the primary financial decision makers in Latino households, this fact holds promising for developers. NCLR’s wealth-building policy team stated that they believe the game is effective because ‘the idea behind the game is to take an element that is non-threatening and attractive and use it as a medium not only to teach financial lessons, but to get people to start thinking about finances in a relaxing and ‘at-your-own-pace’ way.’
As Denisse Dubrovsky, of the Doorways to Dreams Fund, stated, ‘Thinking about finances can be scary or just plain boring and framing it in a way that otherwise intrigues the players gets them to feel more self-confident and empowered to take action. Farm Blitz combines the most popular casual game mechanic in the world, a Match-3 puzzle game (think Bejeweled), with financial education content, giving it an addictive, immersive quality while bringing up important topics (we call it cheese covered broccoli).. Not to mention we took the ever popular Farm theme (Farmville, everyone?)!’ What’s also key to the games success is that it is ‘built for any level of computer and financial literacy- (players can proceed at their own pace, with help available at the touch of a button and with clear instructions and demos from characters in the games.’
Farm Blitz has won an EIFLE, an award bestowed by The Institute for Financial Literacy to acknowledge innovation, dedication and a strong commitment to financial literacy education. The game has also been nominated for a ‘Games for Change’ Direct Impact Award, which recognizes games that are used and played to address pressing issues, producing sustainable and positive impact on our society.
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