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Best finance video games.

Best Finance Video Games To Improve Your Financial Skills

Updated on April 20, 2021

 Personal Finance

The importance of financial education and financial planning is inexpressibly immense. With a sound knowledge of finance and how to manage it, navigating through everyday activities becomes much more comfortable than expected. The success or failure of the financial life of every person depends on how adept they are at the basis of financial literacy. However, despite the enormity of its importance, it remains elusive to many individuals how to improve finance skills. Interestingly, there are several proven ways this can be done, and one of such method is by playing finance video games.

Over the last few years, financial apps, video games, and board games have become more popular throughout the globe. According to a research, it has been established that the gamification of financial education is an effective learning mechanism, even more so than it is fun. Indeed, gaming allows those who participate in the act to learn through active involvement by doing the tasks they learn about within an environment that is simulated.

If you’re not an avid gamer, chances are the term ‘video game’ conjures up images of simulated warfare or adventure plots or maybe even fantasy role playing (as in wizards and swordplay). These, along with the usual suspects in the genre of sports (we wonder sometimes how ‘new’ a football video game can be after its 17th release). When we talk about so-called ‘simulation games’, you might think of the classic Microsoft Flight Simulator or ‘The Sims’, that game where you get to control the lives of virtual people.

However, did you know there is a sub-genre of personal finance games that will sharpen your financial skills without feeling like a credit counseling session or an economics class? Most of these games tend to include the word ‘Tycoon’, though there are many besides that deal with financial situations, yet are genuinely entertaining. So whether you want to explore potentially new ways of thinking, keep your budgeting skills sharpened, or teach your kids about finances without necessarily boring them into forgetting it all, check out the following video games (all of which are at least two years old). Check your favorite search engine for availability (Steam and Amazon are good places to start).

How Do Financial Games Improve Your Money Management Skills?

Though we have emphasized the importance of gaming to learning about finances, it is pertinent to specifically highlight the ways financial games in particular help to build a positive financial identity.

Brain activation

One very important issue tackled by finance apps and games is that of brain activation. It is a fact that the state of financial education in many institutions of learning today is embarrassingly weak. In fact, according to statistics, just 17 states in the US have financial literacy classes required to be taken by high school students for them to graduate. Also, in the year 2010, a survey by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling revealed the fact that 56% of respondents in the country do not have a budget, and even more shocking, 5% do not keep any track of their spending. As such, it is evident that the country is in need of better ways to activate our brains towards financial literacy.

Due to the disappointing fact that there is a limited amount of tech-savvy companies and institutions dedicated to this cause in students and young people who are quickly approaching adulthood and financial independence, it is inevitable for us to turn our attention to financial planning games for assistance in this regard. They help everyone – both the young and adults – in knowing how to improve finance skills that encourage quick thinking and sound decision-making.

Improved communication

Another way finance video games boost your finance skills is by enhancing your communication efficiency. Through active participation in video gaming, the building blocks through which you gain the confidence and tools needed to appreciate and understand increasingly complex financial topics are enhanced. When students learn the basics of financial literacy through gaming, it becomes easier for them to collaborate with their finance education instructors and also help them to communicate what is required to advance the learning process.

As a result of the experience-related activities provided by playing financial games, it gets faster for the teacher and students to have better communication throughout the whole process of education. Indeed, these games reinforce the ideas and concepts that the students are taught in the classroom in a way that is considered fun and unique to the students.

Better knowledge retention

Financial planning games make you retain information more and for a longer period. When you play them, they make it easier for you to remember financial concepts. It seems that assimilating educational concepts and ideas in a relaxed and fun way like gaming relieves the anxiety that is often associated with learning within the four walls of the classroom, proving more effective. Studies have also established that finance video games can shift our cognitive processes. Explicitly speaking, psychologists have found that casual and simple games such as Candy Crush and the like improve the mood, burn off anxiety and enhance relaxation.

Furthermore, it has also been suggested that failing in a game may improve toughness and resilience in the real world. All these prove the fact that gaming affects the dynamics, chemistry in the brain and promote receptivity to learning in a much more positive way than you can imagine; thus, proving to be the ultimate solution to how to improve finance skills.

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Improved engagement

A problem that commonly plagues traditional financial education techniques, such as classroom teaching and books, is the lack of interest. It is often hard for young learners to focus without distractions through these traditional ways. However, financial games help to encourage them to develop the desire to learn about money management via an engaging but fun-filled representation. Video games and finance apps help participants to become more engaged with an idea they would otherwise find tedious and stressful. They present them to the participants in a unique and interestingly engaging way. People who typically do not care about these financial literacy topics when administered to them through traditional learning techniques subconsciously develop a considerable amount of interest in them through financial games.

Increased confidence

One striking development that happens when you regularly participate in financial planning games is the heightened sense of self-belief. The games help users develop the necessary financial knowledge needed to boost their confidence to reach their financial goals. By engaging in financial tasks within a fun and low-stress setting such as video games, the positive progress you make reflects on your level of confidence in real life. The improved self-confidence and self-efficacy encourage users to become dedicated and motivated to take more actions in their financial life.

Here Are The Best Finance Video Games

Analyzing how to improve finance skills goes beyond merely stating the ways finance video games help to actualize it. It is also necessary to highlight briefly some of such games you could participate in to improve your financial literacy. Therefore, below is a brief but detailed description of a few of the most efficient finance applications and games available out there.

'Bite Club'

The Bite Club is a game that allows its players manage a day club for vampires. Usually, participants go through the familiar tension between servicing debt, spending money and making savings for future purposes. The game features vampires who live forever, and it also stresses the impact of long-term savings over a period of 45 years in a 15-round game. This financial game is targeted at ingraining three learning objectives in its players; saving for retirement, paying down debt, and managing current consumption.

'Financial Football'

Financial Football is an NFL-themed financial planning game that has a personal finance component. Participants get asked a lot of financial questions, and they move forward down the football field every time they answer one correctly. The game has different difficulty levels starting from the rookie to hall of famer. The quarter lengths range from five to twenty minutes.

To play the game, all you have to do is select your team and the opposing team, and you are good to go. It also has an application for the iPad and iPhone.

'Countdown to Retirement'

Countdown to Retirement gives you an interesting insight into how to improve your finance skills. This unique finance video game tests your ability to save enough money for one of the most important moments of your life which is the post-retirement period. It is modeled after real life, and it starts with your first job. The challenges presented to you then progress along with your career by allowing you to earn promotions as well as raises. There is a range of characters you can choose with Chris the Cube Dweller and Phoebe the Physicist being the most interesting.

'Gen I Revolution'

Gen I Revolution is a financial game tailored towards middle school and high school students. Managed by the Council for Economic Education, the finance education game gives participating students the chance to compete against themselves, and in the process, acquire some relevant personal finance skills. There are fifteen financial rescue missions to be embarked on by the players.

'The Stock Market Game'

The Stock Market Game was created by the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, which is an agency with a specialty in investor education. Participants in the finance video game are required to invest $10,000 of virtual money. The game is aimed at testing the ability of its players to create a solid and incredible investment collection. To participate in the game, you are only required to register and sign up for an account.

'Celebrity Calamity'

Celebrity Calamity is a game that puts its players in the position of a celebrity money manager. The game saddles you with the task of helping a Hollywood star to control their reckless spending habits. By playing this game, you get to hone your budgeting skills while you help fictional stars with interesting names such as Buster Buyin and Missy Moolah. Also, it also features a leader board that helps to see how well you fare compared to other players.


This is a classic science fiction war simulator that has been hailed as one of the best stories ever made into a video game. The premise: mankind has moved beyond the Solar System to a new set of planets where danger and chaos lurk around every corner. Three major races are vying for control of this region and they are Humans (humans), Zerg (hive minded creatures controlled by a queen), and the Protoss (advanced beings that harness the energy of alternate dimensions). Because this is a war simulator, there is a PG-13 level of violence and a creep factor where the Zerg are concerned (think the ‘Alien’ movie franchise). As the player, you control the production of resources that are used to build factories that produce fighting units. Resources are limited, which means so are the number of fighting units available. First and foremost a strategy game, Starcraft utilizes necessary budgeting techniques that force the player to choose which units to produce and at which time in order to deal with adversaries. The story is compelling, the strategic play is engaging and the resource management doesn’t feel contrived.

‘Railroad Tycoon 3’

If you’re thinking of getting a game for the kids and they really enjoy trains, try ‘Sid Meier’s Railroads’ which has better graphics and is easier to learn. It will teach your kids the basics of how to budget in order to update now locomotive technology as it becomes available through a series of loosely based historical scenarios. However, if you really want to sink your teeth into the prospect of becoming a railroad baron, the older and much more complex ‘Railroad Tycoon 3’ will have you playing very realistic historical scenarios (such as constructing and managing rail networks in the American West, or Europe in specific time periods that include lots of educational historical detail). Budgeting is much more involved, and includes a stock market where you can trade, short sell, or face a loss as competitors try to buy you out. Resources are very specific; you can’t just pick up freight at one station and haul it anywhere expecting to be paid. Supplies have to go where the demand is, and locomotives don’t just have an upfront cost, there are maintenance issues and strategic placement of railway, as well as access rights, land leasing, and long term loans that need to be paid off. The reward is a genuine sense of satisfaction at successfully building a rail empire, even if it is only virtual, and repeated scenario play never feels like the same game twice.

‘Roller Coaster Tycoon 3’

If you thought this was a game in which you build and run your own amusement park, you are absolutely correct, and Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 is the best in the series to date. Excellent graphics, complex game-play in which difficulty can not only be adjusted, but fine-tuned, and plenty of financial challenges such as staff management, ride maintenance, concession placement, pricing and overall park design. When on the most difficult setting, budgets are very limited, and generating new forms of revenue (ie, attracting more guests to the park and getting them to spend their money on more than just the entrance fee) is very challenging. But it is also very rewarding, helping even younger players to hone their skills in resource management and budgeting. While static rides like carousels have a fixed design and cost, roller coasters must be designed and paid for (with in-game currency) by the player; the bigger the coaster, the more expensive it will be, but this also means it will have a higher excitement factor and potentially attract more park guests.

‘Cities Skylines’

While the ‘Sim City’ franchise has enjoyed the larger share of popularity, this European game is more complex, more entertaining, and a bit more realistic. Essentially, the player has to design and manage a settlement that begins as a village, and then grow that village into a thriving metropolis. Everything costs money, from the building of roads to the provision of police and fire protection services, and the only way to generate revenue is through taxes, which are varied. Not only does the player have to provide essential services, but accommodate for leisure activities, run a network of interconnect public transportation services and deal with the inevitable growing pains that come from dealing with city boundaries and growth. There are even day and night cycles in which worker activities dwindle and the demand for leisure activities increases. Budgeting is crucial here, and the player will lose if the city is in the red for too long. And while this all may seem complicated – because it is – the game begins with an in-depth tutorial that will become more intuitive the more the game is played.

Each of these games can be purchased for $20 or less, but are sure to teach your kids the value of making money, simple ways to save money and resource management as well as hone your own skills all while having enjoying these fun personal finance games.

Photograph of author Joseph Priebe

Joseph Priebe

Joseph Priebe takes pride in assisting audiences with his articles to help them make sound financial decisions.

With over ten years of experience writing financial content his goal at CASH 1 has always been creating engaging and easy-to-digest information for anyone searching for immediate or long-term monetary solutions.

When Joseph is not writing about personal finance, you can find him photographing the Southwest United States with his 4x5 Graflex Crown Graphic camera. He is based in Phoenix, Arizona.