Pedro Moreira : Spent

Game Basics

Choose a job, and play through the month. How did your choice impact your month?

I decided to choose the Restaurant, trying to avoid the stress from office and the physical work from the warehouse, but in the other hand I had less money.

Where did you choose to live? Why, and what are the benefits and costs of that choice?

I chose to live the most near possible, so in case of car problems, I would still be able to go to work. As consequence, the rent price got very high.

Theme Insights

How do different jobs affect someone’s living?

Some jobs provide better salaries, but also may require more physical resources or are more stressful. So, take the job with the best salary isn’t always the best job, once the negative effects can be very expensive.

How did the financial challenges affect your morals and decisions?

Throughout the game I tried to make morally correct choices and tried to grow my children as well as I could. In the beginning I tried to provide the best education possible to my children, sometimes I just didn’t have enough money. Throughout the month I was running out of sources and I realized that every chance to do things by myself was very important in order to save money.

World Connections

How did playing change the way you think about your own or other’s struggles with money?

I started to think more about asking a friend for help and how unexpected things may bring new problems.

Other than learning the importance of saving money, what other skills did you learn?

Apply the money properly, trying not only solve the current problems but also to have a more successful future, investing on education and keeping myself healthy.

Janet Jacobsen: Spent

Basics

Where did you choose to live? Why, and what are the benefits and costs of that choice?
I picked about the mid-point in rent and distance. In any case, rent was going to take a huge chunk of my available funds, and living further out was not giving me that much of a financial gain. And I was afraid that living too far away (50 miles!) would reduce my options in being able to get to work, especially if I had any kind of car problems. So it was essentially a choice to reduce my costs a bit, while hopefully still keeping my transportation options open. At one point in the game I opted to take the bus; I wonder if that would have been a choice if I were “living” further out.

What did you buy for groceries? How did your choices affect the rest of your month?
In actuality, I’m a really efficient food shopper, and I’m a good enough cook to be able to do a lot with not much. So I loaded up on fruits and vegetables, pasta, chicken, bread, and peanut butter and spent a bit less than $50, so it didn’t impact my overall budget too badly, and we didn’t run out of food.

Theme

What did you choose regarding your child’s after school activities? Why?
I said yes on all of them, which I believe totalled about $40 for the month. First, you want to support the child’s learning as much as possible. Also, it’s awful from a child’s point of view to be the one “left out.”

What did you give up because you either had no money or chose to save?
The big worry was not getting a bad tooth looked after. This is a problem that will not go away, and potentially gets more expensive the longer you let it go. I also didn’t make a student loan payment, but I didn’t think of that as “giving up” something…..

Connections

How did playing change the way you think about your own or others’ choices?
It was a reminder of how much difference an education makes. Just for starters, I could help my child with her homework! But frankly at several points in the game, I was aware of other options that were available in such a situation, which weren’t given as options in the game. Today we tend to think of information being readily available to everyone, but the “digital divide” is real and an option you don’t know is an option that doesn’t “exist.”

Other than learning the importance of saving money, what other skills did you learn?
It’s not my natural inclination to ask people for help, but it made a difference multiple times in this game, so it reinforced my efforts to not always think I’m less of a person if I need help. I spent a lot of my life not having much money – I actually was an office “temp” for awhile, so that was the natural choice in the game for me. Many of the other game scenarios were already familiar situations to me, and I did pretty well at making “good” choices.

Kyle Myers: Spent

Spent is a game that challenges players to financially survive for a month as if they were a single parent. The game begins by giving the player the option to choose from three separate jobs. Once a player chooses a job, they are continuously shown various situations and are forced to choose the supposed “best” financial decision until they either run out of money or survive for the month. I chose the warehouse job since it was the only option that had steady hours. In addition to the job, I also chose to purchase the silver health insurance plan. The point-and-click game mechanics were very simple, but as the player I often encountered scenarios that made me consider my own ethics. Throughout the majority of the game I did my best to make morally correct choices, such as taking care of my mother and giving money to my children when they asked. However, there were several times where I had no additional money to give and was forced to be selfish. I was lucky enough to successfully make it through the month, but only at the cost of sacrificing my health and my getting fired from my job. If I were to state a minor flaw in the game, I was under the impression that the “ask a friend for help” option was more of an advertising gimmick and distracted the player from potential immersive gameplay.

Not only does this game enlighten the player about the financial situations of others, but it also helps players develop a sense of empathy regarding the seemingly selfish choices of people in difficult situations. The fact that these themes are presented through actual educational facts adds a sense of realism that evokes an emotional response from the player. This game servers a completely educational purpose, therefore the connections the game has to the world are quite literal. Rather than making interpretations as to what the game represents, it should be considered an engaging learning tool that has a clear purpose and message.

Eric Tang: Spent

I chose this game over the rest because I was curious about what kind of scenarios will be implemented into this game. When the game first started out I was given three job options, I decided to be a mover as it provided the most stable hours and pay. Unfortunately this job also meant that I would be putting my health at risk, but I came into this game with the idea that this would only be temporary while I’m getting out of this financial hole. By the end of the game, the risk and reward of my choice was debatable as I finished the game with multiple health problems that if left unchecked/untreated at some point may endanger my life. Even though I knew my job would be risky I decided to opt out of the health plans as the cost would take away any of my savings at the end of the month. Like I mentioned before, my plan was to get out of this financial trouble so I held my breath and hoped that over the next couple of months no serious health problems will develop. For groceries, I basically went in and bought almost all my regular grocery but of course I looked mostly at carbs and protein and overlooked vegetables as they were out of my budget. I stuck mainly with top ramen and potatoes for carbs, orange juice for vitamin C, frozen chicken for protein and some carrots and beans for fiber.

Living day to day meant that I had to constantly reach out to relatives and friends for help whether they be financial or with house chores. In regards to my child’s livelihood, I made sure he got everything he needed because in the off chance that I can no longer work or support him financial, he would have been taught certain skills that cannot be lost if he ever found himself broke like myself. So when he wanted to go to a genius camp, he went. When he wanted to go attend an afterschool sport, he did. The only thing I did not allow him to have was not eating free school lunches. I personally was a “free lunch” kid and I had no problem with getting free meals. The meal was the same as the rest of the other cafeteria food and the cost would have burned a hole in my wallet.

The systemic effect related to poverty is that it is easy to fall into it but extremely hard to get yourself out without having a bit of luck. To be honest, even after penny pinching my way through the month, I will not be able to save enough unless I neglected my child’s opportunities to attend camp and sports. While I would never compare my life to the one portrayed in this game, what I can say is that with the budget my family is on I appreciate what opportunities have been given to me and a new found appreciation for those who have given them to me.

Jacob Robson: My Minecraft Experience

Game Basics:

Build a crafting table. How do you do it?

I took wood, made it into planks, then placed four planks in the crafting window to make a my very own crafting table.

How can you grow plants in the game? Why do you want to grow plants?

You can grow plants by planting saplings you get from harvesting trees. When a tree is harvested, it is removed from the game forever. In order to maintain a supply of wood, saplings need to be replanted.

You may have discovered the Forest and Mountain biomes. What other biomes are there? Do they offer different resources?

I had started out in a massive jungle, with tall trees and vines everywhere. I found a  tundra too, with snow and ice everywhere. I don’t know if I can build anything with the snow, but I could gather it up.

 

Theme Insights:

What do you do when you have collected too many things to carry?

I made a chest and stored my random objects by putting eight planks in a square shape with the crafting table.

Diamonds are rare. How does their scarcity affect what you do with them?

I never found any diamonds, but I imagine that they are used to craft some of the best equipment later in the game. As they are rare, they will always be allocated towards what you absolutely need at the moment

What resource do you wish you had more of? Why is it hard to get? How can you change that?

As I got to the tundra, there were very few trees, so I needed to bring wood from the jungle in order to build my wooden tundra house. I wished there were more trees in the tundra, as it would have saved me a lot of time in the long run, and crafting wooden equipment would have been a little easier. I could have searched a bit harder, and probably found some trees that grew in the tundra, but I knew where wood already could be located.

 

World Connections:

Are all resources renewable? Identify a renewable resource in the world. How is the use and renewal managed?

There are many renewable resources all around us, such as wood and game animals. In order to maintain a steady supply of these resources, conservation efforts and breeding programs have to be implemented in order to maintain the “flow” of the resource.

What strategies are used if a resource is hard to renew? Why are these strategies important?

If a resource is difficult to renew, ordinances such as hunting limits have to be put into place to stem the consumption of the resource, and for the continued survival of the item being harvested.