How I Learned Financial Principles: What Simulation and Tycoon Video Games Can Teach You and Your Children!

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I am sure many of us can remember growing up, our mothers and fathers griping about how much we played our video games. Mine claimed that these games would "kill my brain". I may be a little different than many in this regard. Basically, I did not like (and still don't, with the exception of a few) the 'traditonal' video games that feature storylines and action sequences, etc. My games we're the tycoon and business simulation games . These we're the games that exercised my creative side. I am sure I was probably on the computer a bit too long working out how to connect these two pathways together just right on the budget I set for the project. But, looking back, these we're also the games that gave me a head start on my own financial decisions in my life.

I used to often wonder how landscape architecture was the path that was chosen for me. I do not recall 'choosing' landscape architecture. In fact, it was my wife that told me to test so I could get into the program. These simulation games are the reason. Understanding spatial composition and requirements and being creative with relatively few materials was engrained into my brain long before I was aware of the complexities. Below are the games that either shaped my financial principles and/or shaped what was my college major, landscape architecture:

Roller Coaster Tycoon

The Original Tycoon is still my all-time favorite 'game'. Countless hours would be spent developing my theme parks from scratch. The game is basically a playground in which to learn about how money works (and how bad debt is). There is a constant struggle between income and expenses that must be balanced to create a 'thriving park'. This is the game that shaped my creative passion, also. My older brother would play this game too, and he oftentimes asked me to help him create something that he was trying to achieve.

SimCity 3000 and SimCity 4

The ultimate in balancing budgets . There is a real balance between want and need in this simulation. Rarely have I ever played this game where I have not budgeted properly for future disasters and end up severely in debt. Creative financial solutions we're often the only way to make money again. If I we're a father or a school teacher, I would definitely have my children playing this game to understand budgeting and money decisions! Playing these games today is even more fun because I have plenty of city-planning knowledge from my undergraduate studies. It's pretty neat how this game can work on so many levels. For the 'novice' city-planner this game can be fun. For the 'experienced' city-planner this game can be challenging to try to meet the goals you have set forth for yourself.

Railroad Tycoon II

Money-management is key to being successful in this game. Often the scenarios require the player to make smaller, less-profittable routes to create larger, more-complex routes that really rake in the money. More money = better equipment which also equates into more opportunites for positive financial results. Although, these principles may not apply on a personal finance scale, they certainly can help in developing a budding entrepreneur! It takes money to make money. Since I am currently working as a logistics router and analyst, I can only believe it was this game (along with Locomotion) that has allowed me to be successful in my current position.

The Sims

This game was a bit too life-like for me. The focus on the game is more about balancing time than about balancing money, and I never could quite do the first thing well in this game. Still I played it some and realized that everyday items are expensive! The problem I saw with this game, however, is that the more 'stuff' you own, the higher your bills are. I am sure this is teaching many kids that debt is OK. I can understand buying a TV may suck more electric, but If I buy a table with cash, there should be no extra monthly bills, right?


If you see your children addicted to video games, try turning them onto these type games. It may shape their future in a positive way! Many of these games are quite realistic in handling money-based decisions and they may provide skills that will help them choose a career path!

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Posted in Fun Post Date 12/02/2015






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