What Games Can Teach You About Finance

Games are more than just fun pastimes or hobbies. In fact, personal finance lessons abound. Check out some of the money lessons hidden within games you've probably not noticed.

Games are not merely idle amusements. Be it classics like chess, or its modern counterparts like Magic: the Gathering or Starcraft, games are simulations that allow us to exercise our creativity and ingenuity to solve complex puzzles. Besides fostering a range of cognitive benefits and being an immensely satisfying activity, skills acquired from gaming could be applied to the management of your personal finances.

But just what money lessons are surreptitiously hidden in these games? Read on!

Resource Management

From Blizzard Entertainment's Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

Games are superb tools to learn and practice resource management. Players start out with an allocated amount of finite resources - be it hit points or gold - and the player who exacts the most value out of his or her resources often emerge the winner. In real life, our finite resources consist of money (for most of us at least), time and social capital.

A brilliant resource manager extracts the maximum value from his or her resources. Nearly all games involve an aspect of resource management: govern your armies in real-time strategy games, manage your clutch of spells and creatures in card games and manage your gold acquisition, hit points and teammates (human resources anyone?) in MOBAs.

Extend the mileage of your resources by prioritising their consumption. Good players possess an implicit understanding of which resource to spend and which to hold at different stages of the game.

Having a Game Plan

Uncovered Clues by Jaime Jones, from Magic: the Gathering

While ‘have a plan’ sounds like a protip, planning is often overlooked. For many reasons: it takes time and effort to plan and planning is not exactly the most enjoyable part of any activity.

In competitive gaming, having a game plan is one of the factors most likely to aid you in securing a win. Having a financial game plan comprises of more than a vague “Buy a house by thirty” or “Make a million by forty”.

A good game plan entails an implicit understanding of your chosen strategy and how to adapt it to novel scenarios you may encounter during the course of a tournament. A well-devised financial plan involves understanding your financial goals and having a concrete route to achieve it, step-by-step. It should include an awareness of the tools available to assist you in your journey as well as present and future opportunities that inch you closer to your objective.

Part of having a plan is to be aware of the things that could prevent you from achieving your goals and work around them. Or at least to have a contingency plan prepared should those things happen.

Financial planning helps you utilise your limited resources optimally, just as a game plan helps you navigate the treacherous realms of competitive gaming. Planning is the necessary evil that gels your resource management efforts together.

Stick to the Plan

It is one thing to have a game plan, another to stick to them. Gaming tournaments involve a fair amount of pressure, especially when there is a large prize pool or an invitation to the professional circuit on the line. Players with the mental fortitude to stick to their plans amid pressure trump the players who crumble.

Likewise, there would be plenty of distractions as you work your way towards your financial goals. After all, we are primed to favour instant gratification over long-term success. It takes conscious effort to commit to your plans in the midst of distractions, but stick to it and you will reap the rewards.

Quitting Should Not Be an Option

Gaming competitions are ruthless. There could be hundreds of players competing, but there can be only one champion when the dust settles and the arena is strewn with the shattered dreams of the losers.

Thankfully, financial success is not a zero sum game. There may be a lot of losers, but there is space for a lot of winners. If you make a mistake and derail your financial plan, there is no need to give up on it. Salvage what you can and rebuild your financial plan, this time from a wiser perspective.

As with games, you only truly lose when you give up.

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