Ontario's Investor Education Fund (IEF) has just unveiled The Cranial Cash Clash, an interactive financial literacy contest that pits your money smarts against online and mobile players from around the world.
Three fast-paced episodes are now available, based on money-related themes:
- "Debt Drama" measures borrowing savvy.
- "Quest to Invest" tests investing knowledge.
- "Scam Exam" gauges your ability to separate financial fact from fraud.
Future modules will include "Saving for School" and "Investment Shopping."
How the game works
Points are awarded for correct responses, with bonuses based on how fast you answer. A timer counts down 30 seconds for each of the eight questions per episode. The size of your on-screen brain either expands when you respond correctly, or twitches in disgust when you are wrong.
After each episode, the game displays a graphical report card with a gold trophy for no errors, a silver trophy for one slip-up and a bronze trophy for two mistakes.
To showcase your best scores, log on to Facebook or Twitter before you start a game. This also allows you to challenge your social media community, selected family members and friends to beat your results.
Multiple target audiences
The Cranial Cash Clash features flashy animations that, at first glance, seem to target younger players adept at web games and smartphone apps.
However, IEF President Tom Hamza said in an email interview that the "IEF developed the game with ‘casual gaming' elements that are extremely popular among adults of all ages, but especially in the 40-plus market."
This is the same market that likes popular online games such as "FarmVille" and "Angry Birds," which, according to Hamza, are "fun and simple enough to appeal to a more mature market."
The game launched near the end of January, a key time of year, according to Hamza. That's when consumers are "most alert, interested and responsive to their personal finances," he said.
"Most of the year, consumers are bombarded with messages about investing, taxes and, of course, the dreaded aftermath of holiday spending and debt," Hamza said. "This is the ideal time for the game to roll out."
Upcoming competitions and incentives
Hamza also announced some public challenges that will encourage more participation. For example, IEF will be introducing the game at Ontario Hockey League games throughout Ontario in February and March, along with prizes and contests.
There are incentives for online players, too. After participants use the game to self-test their own financial literacy, they can work on correcting any weaknesses that they uncover by using the educational articles linked to their test results.
IEF plans to collect game statistics that will identify which questions stump the most players.
"The great part of the game is that IEF is able to gather real-time insight into what Canadians as a society are having difficulty answering," Hamza said. "Over time, IEF will be able to provide further details on what areas Canadians are having the most difficulty with -- as well as what Canadians are most knowledgeable about."
This writer's performance
When I took the challenge, I was surprised to find gaps in my knowledge about long-term debt management and my naiveté about a couple of sneaky money scams.
But practice makes perfect. I quickly rose through the ranks to nearly top the game leader board with 49,660 points.
Can you beat that?