February 28, 2014
Working with game developers at its namesake sponsor, Michigan State University Federal Credit Union created and launched a financial education app in game form that has been downloaded to more than 10,000 devices since its rollout in August 2013.
Saving Magic is an interactive game, developed with MSU’s College of Communications Arts and Sciences Department, in which coins fall from the sky and players can choose whether to use the money right away for small rewards or save it for larger goals, such as special skills.
The app is designed for 5- to 12-year-olds to illustrate the advantages of saving over spending, says Sarah Bohan, VP/corporate relations for $2.5 billion, 181,000-member MSU FCU.
Though the app, available for iOS and Android devices, can be downloaded for free by anyone, the credit union’s core target audience is 6,000 young members who are rewarded for saving (real) money in their Dollar Dog accounts.
MSU FCU also teamed up with the university’s Games for Entertainment and Learning Lab in 2012 to create the Spartan Villa app for college students. It’s “a fun-filled strategy game where you manage the ultimate college house by building awesome rooms, attracting the best tenants, and managing your finances to pay for it all.”
The success of Spartan Villa, with its emphasis on budgeting and building a positive credit standing, led the credit union and GEL Lab to its second collaboration. “We did beta testing through the lab at a summer camp on game design. The students there played with it and gave us great feedback,” Bohan says. “We also tested it internally with executives and managers and their families. Even some of the adults who played it really enjoyed it.”
“Supporting financial literacy is very important to us, and we believe in introducing financial education at a young age,” she adds.
Karen Bankston is a long-time contributor to Credit Union Management and writes about credit unions, membership growth, marketing, operations and technology. She is the proprietor of Precision Prose, Stoughton, Wis.