Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Pokemon Go and Gaming as Educational Tools

This article by Aviva is actually the best "Pokemon GO" adaptation to personal finances that I have seen so far!

Topics addressed are:
- Avoid herding
- Taking action
- Get help if you can't DIY
- Compound interest
- Re-evaluation

Of the 5 topics covered, my personal favourite is "Avoid herding". However, herding is ingrained in Singaporeans. Long queue? Just join. Anything with a crowd attracts a bigger crowd. I think this stems from the "kiasu" mindset that most of us have to some degree. If someone else has, also must have, or else lose out!

Personally, the 2 biggest tips I'd like to share are there:

Understand the game and YOUR objectives

To different people, the game has different meaning. To many of the older players, it is all about finding, catching and collecting all the different pokemon. To the younger players, it is about finding the strongest pokemon and battling for gym ownership.

If you're a collector, your should be mainly concerned about having a fully stocked inventory of berries and pokeballs. Perhaps the other extra thing is perfecting your throws since it is supposedly said that getting throw bonuses increases the capture rate of pokemon. The last part is about exploring a lot of places and finding all the pokemon!

If you are a fighter, catching different pokemon is not as important as catching strong pokemon. A fighting trainer needs to know which pokemon are in the strong tiers, they need to know which moves are the best, they need to know how to calculate IV% and they also need to know gym battling techniques, such as preparing your 6 member team, taking advantages of type weaknesses and strengths and dodging / attacking strategies.

Although it is the same game, between 2 people with different goals, they have vastly different strategies and "KPIs" to show if they are doing a good job while working towards their goals.

The game of life is no different. You need to understand how the "game" works and you need to decide what is your own objective. To be financially independent and retire early? To travel the world while being a freelancer? To be an entrepreneur with many businesses? Depending on your objective, there are different ways to play the "game". While you enjoy gunning for financial freedom so you can go fishing all day, another person might see that as a meaningless pursuit and rather build an empire.

Who is to say which path is better?

Planning (for Optimization)

Planning in Pokemon Go is important if you want things to run smoothly, just like real life.

If you're going to have a big pokemon hunting session, you are going to want to make sure that your inventory is stocked up, your powerbanks are charged and the weather is fine. You could start your hunt without checking on these factors, but your hunt will be short-lived and that is not an efficient use of your time.

If you're aiming to level up quickly (higher level trainers can catch stronger pokemon), you should optimize your XP gains. The simplest strategy I've seen so far is to pop a lucky egg and evolve 60 pokemon in a shot. The XP gains can be somewhere in the 60,000+ as compared to the unknowing player who pops a lucky egg and perhaps yield somewhere in the range of 5,000 - 15,000 XP. Planning your usage allows you to gain 4 to 12 times more XP, and that equates to faster levelling up.

The parallel to the real world is that planning can too pay off big time and help you stretch your benefits just by doing things smartly. Obvious examples are early retirement planning and careful budgeting for life milestones. Less obvious and less impactful examples are planning your annual leave and overseas trips in advance. You'd usually be approved of your preferred dates when it comes to leave, and you'd usually end up paying a better price if you have prepared well!


I have heard of parents outright banning their children from touching any technology under the premise that "games make them stupid". However, I would argue that it really depends on the game. Most games model real world situations and gaming is a relatively safe and cheap way to expose and educate people to be able to handle real world problems better.

It really depends on the game though. Certain games have very little educational value. Other games have rich and enchanting story lines, as well as opportunities to learn a vast range of topics, ranging from biology, geography, history, logic, puzzle solving and even cooperation (in multi player games).

Neopets is a good example of a very robust and educational game. I learnt a lot from it, especially with regards to savings, interests and even "working" (because you were limited to collecting coins from each game only 3 times a day).

Diablo 2 was a game that I played in my teens and surprisingly, my knowledge of economics just EXPLODED from playing the game. I didn't even study for my A levels H1 Economics exam because Diablo had taught me everything that I needed to know. I know, it sounds ridiculous, but that was the truth.

Civilizations got me interested in ancient civilizations and technologies, while Total War had me reading up on Wikipedia for weeks learning about military history. After playing Total War, I can never look at the movie battle scenes the same way again!

Recently, I have recommended Money Race 2 as a good financial game app for people to play with. It's a lot more focused on education and driving home certain points, so it teaches you things to the face, as opposed to the more tangent method that other games employ. Of course it's more fun to learn when you are being tricked to learn as you have tons of fun, as opposed to voluntarily attending a class.

Gamification is slowly happening all around us. Instead of resisting it, try to look at it like they are trying to make boring and mundane things more fun for people.

If you thought bans on smartphones or computers are bad, I know of a family that doesn't even let their children watch TV. I wonder if the children know how to use a telephone. Don't you think that not being able to perform simple computer tasks is a huge disadvantage for a child in today's world? But what do I know, right?

Games can never replace the joy of many fundamental things in life, but totally depriving yourself or others under your charge from accessing it will make them handicapped in today's technological world.

1 comment:

  1. Haven't started playing Pokemon Go? Download It Now (Built for iOS and Android)


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