Games in Education

Debt Ski Game Teaches Students to Manage Debt

Debt Ski LogoDebt Ski is an online flash game that challenges students to minimize and manage their debt. It was introduced in late April 2009 as part of the InDebtEd financial education campaign. Dealing with personal and national debt, the mtvU and Peter G. Peterson Foundation initiative focuses on encouraging students to play their part in reversing the American fiscal crisis.

In Debt Ski, you play as a pig named Piggy Banks who must collect coins while riding a personal water craft to pay for his lifestyle. In order to win, you must learn to maintain your happiness while maximizing savings and limiting your debt. The key to success is avoiding destructive financial behavior and taking fiscally responsible action. Read More...

"Arguably, the economic crisis is one of the biggest challenges facing this generation," said Ross Martin of MTV360. "College students are dealing with a broad range of issues from rising tuition to entering one of the most daunting job markets in recent history. Students don't sit on the sidelines, they take action -- they become the creative engine driving social change."

College students now have to spend more than twice what the previous generation spent on tuition — and these amounts are set to keep rising. To acquire their education two-thirds of college graduates have student loans reaching nearly $20,000. According to projections, due to increasing government and personal debt, today’s young adults are expected to be the first generation unable to enjoy the same growth in standard of living as their parents.

"College students and recent graduates don't need more grim news about their futures, but they do need to be informed of the challenges they face," said Dave Walker, President and CEO of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation. "Debt Ski will entertain them while taking them through the trade-offs involved in being fiscally responsible and the consequences of being fiscally irresponsible. The game is the centerpiece of our effort with mtvU to inspire young people to take control of their financial futures and call on their government to do the same."

Debt Ski was inspired by a concept submitted by 25-year-old Brian Haveri of Milburn, NJ, a graduate of Lehigh University. His concept won the $10,000 prize in the InDebtEd Digital Challenge. The InDebtEd campaign has a viral component, with the Debt Ski game being embeddable on any website.

"Young people, who are arguably the most important audience to reach these days when it comes to inspiring social change, are hard to reach through traditional media," said Walker.

"Early data shows that there are high replay numbers, which means the audience is spending time on the site and playing the game multiple times -- increasing the odds that the core messages are coming through and have the potential to make an impact," said Martin.

Playing Debt Ski has other direct financial benefits. Players have the chance to win money to put toward debt or boost their savings. Each week until June 25, 2009, one winner will be chosen to receive $250 by simply playing the game and entering to win.