Have fun, make friends, learn about money

I think there are some deep cultural differences between Britain and the US, including our attitudes to money and finance. Not an original observation, but one that has to be true. Why think this now? I’ve just been browsing the MinyanLand web site. When I first saw the name MinyanLand I wondered if it was a virtual world for Orthodox Jewish children, but apparently not.

MinyanLand is rather “a virtual community designed to teach kids and families about earning, spending, saving and giving through games and interaction that are entertaining and educational.”

The main NPC characters in MinyanLand are Hoofy the  Bull and Boo the Bear:

Hoofy the Bull is president of the First Bank of MinyanLand and is respected by his fellow citizens. As an advocate of the bull market, he is always optimistic about potential ventures – even when the steaks are high.

I don’t think anyone in the UK could author a character bio like that while keeping a straight face.

Boo, meanwhile, is a dot-com millionaire who sold out and cashed in before the dot-com bubble burst. And so on.

As a virtual world which aims to teach children not just about money and how to manage their money, but about the financial system, MinyanVille is free to play but features adverts – as the note to parents on the site says, they are teaching children about the financial system and advertising is part of that system.

To get them started, every player gets $50,000 in game currency and a condo valued at the same amount. If they really wanted to teach kids about the financial system they’d change that – I suggest a non-linear random allocation so that about 10% of the kids start with about 90% of the money. As it is, the only parts of the financial system studiously avoided in MinyanVille appear to be poverty and deprivation.

Have to admit that that might not be as much fun to play.

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