Could freemium games teach today's kids better budget-management?

Could freemium games teach today's kids better budget-management?
The topic of "freemium" games has been the reason for a lot of heated debates - particularly when you have in-app purchases and children in the mix. Many fear and accuse the developers of such games to be devilish tricksters, looking to cash in an easy buck off of a child's love for gaming.

Mark Sorrell, a freemium game design and behaviour change consultant, contributor to "The Children’s Media Yearbook" - a comprehensive guide to children's use of media, has an interesting viewpoint on the topic.

First, he explains that nowadays, freemium apps meant specifically for kids are few and hard to come by, "thanks to a number of high profile missteps", and are probably not going to expand anytime soon. He does not point fingers, but says that the EU and OFT are now giving the industry a long, unyelding "I am watching you" stare, to make sure that all is fairplay in the kids-game department.

So the "freemium" model has been contained to the "adults" sector, but does that help? Doesn't seem so. In reality, Sorrell says, children not only love games, but get into them and learn all the mechanics inside out faster, than an adult can say "What do I press now?". So, having a game labeled as being more complex may make us think that the youngsters would stay away from it, but fact is that kids rarely turn down a challenge. And thus, the "freemium" problem persists.

Well, in Mr. Sorrell's eyes, it is more of a "responsibility" issue than a real "problem". He does point out that we now live in a time and age, where money is more of a digital notion, than a real-life thing. A world where the paycheck is just a number on the screen, not possible to touch and smell, but fully capable of paying the bills, buying dinner and yes - even buying other unreal and untouchable "possessions" – a green helmet for your in-game avatar, for example. A world with a future that we will probably find hard to comprehend, yet we insist on teaching our kids the "old ways" of money-handling.

So what exactly is this "responsibility"? Well, the way children learned in the past was by spending their allowance on "useless", colorful, over-the-top toys that they quickly grew tired and disappointed of. These disappointments, believe it or not, slowly but surely led to the budget-conscious adults that we all are. Mr. Sorrell hereby asks - why not prepare today's children for a future of invisible and untouchable cash by helping and guiding the way they spend their funds in-game? Instead of condemning the industry as the Evil Man's business – why not take advantage of this learning tool?

What do you think of this standpoint?

source: The Guardian

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13 Comments

1. hafini_27

Posts: 949; Member since: Oct 31, 2013

Nope.

2. mistertimi

Posts: 77; Member since: May 28, 2014

It might also teach them to just spend money to get further in life..

5. troutsy

Posts: 382; Member since: Feb 17, 2012

So it would teach them the purpose of money...

13. mistertimi

Posts: 77; Member since: May 28, 2014

Wahey, funny guy. You know what I mean, but you're being a smartass, so congratulations to you!

3. NokiaFTW

Posts: 2072; Member since: Oct 24, 2012

What? I never learned how to manage finances or budget management in school! But I can find you the area of a triangle using PYTHAGORAS theorem.

6. troutsy

Posts: 382; Member since: Feb 17, 2012

Wrong.

8. seanwhat

Posts: 321; Member since: Jul 11, 2013

lol looks like you learned nothing in school then :p

4. Zenzui

Posts: 114; Member since: Feb 13, 2012

Hell no! I rather have my kids concentrate on schools in learning it thru there and finishing them up the right way rather spending their time on freemium games to learn whatever crap it has in there.

7. fzacek

Posts: 2486; Member since: Jan 26, 2014

Just don't register a credit card on the device that your kid uses. Problem solved...

9. 0xFFFF

Posts: 3806; Member since: Apr 16, 2014

It'll teach kids how to manipulate their parents or steal from them so they can get their fix.

10. WinDroid

Posts: 77; Member since: May 20, 2014

Just get the kid a 3DS/2DS so they don't destroy your credit card. Children don't need Phones/Tablets and if you must give them a phone give them a feature phone.

11. 0xFFFF

Posts: 3806; Member since: Apr 16, 2014

I am in full agreement. I'd even go farther, but I fear this ship has sailed. An iPad is a really convenient, really cheap babysitter/day care service. We will probably have to invent a new term for "human beings" in not too long. Children of the Screen... just really won't be what we have thought of for many thousands of years as "human".

12. mixedfish

Posts: 1555; Member since: Nov 17, 2013

I learnt budget-management when all I got was $2 for the game arcades a week. So I HAD to get good at certain games and played games that had a balance of fun and longevity for your dollar. Eventually I could get to the last boss in Metal Slug 2 with just one credit that's about 1 hr of gameplay.

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