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As an avid gamer, I consider myself very up-to-date on the latest gaming news across all platforms.
However, I really slept on this one despite it being totally relevant to the blog and one of my other big passions: financial education.
Island Saver was released in May 2020 on all major console platforms as well as on IOS, Android and Microsoft Windows.
The main game is completely free, and has a rough playtime of between 6-7 hours.
It has a young young audience of anywhere from pre-school age to early secondary school. The lessons taught within the game are still incredibly relevant to older school-age kids too, but I think the design and gameplay probably prevents it from being an attractive pick-up for anyone above the age of about 10. But you never know, used by teachers as part of a lesson could be a good ‘in’ for older age groups.
Amazingly, this game has actually been published by Natwest Bank alongside game developer Stormcloud Games, who previously assisted on the development of Crackdown 3.
So what is it, and why should you immediately get this downloaded on your kid’s favourite gaming platform?
The premise of the game is fairly simple. Your character is parachuted onto Savvy Islands, a lush, cartoon paradise island complete with golden sands, crystal blue waters, tropical undergrowth and interesting and colourful creatures.
But wait! The picturesque island setting has been overrun by litter and pollution in the form of a black gloop like substance. Not only that, but ‘Litterbugs’ are running wild messing up the scenery and generally causing havoc.
The player’s goal (or your kids’ goal) is to remove the litter by sucking it up with their Trash Blaster and depositing it into the recycling machine. Doing so will earn the player coins which they can deposit into the bank and begin to earn interest on.
Through this transaction the player will also learn about how pin numbers work in order to access their money, and the importance of remember it and keeping it safe.
Players are also tasked with removing the pollution ‘goop‘ from the machines and fauna in order to restore life back to the island and encourage the bankimals back to their natural habitats.
The bankimals are essentially normal animals but with little piggy bank slots on their backs that get full when they’ve eaten enough of their respective foods. Once they’re full, the player can save them by sucking out all their coins to deposit into their accounts.
As they save up more money, they can unlock more areas to clean up more of the island from pollution.
They key money features
Island Savers has a number of features stuffed into its fun little storyline to help your kids get a basic understanding on money and how their savings work.
Objectives are rewards
Each objective they complete is rewarded with cash. What they need to do isn’t rocket science, but it’s showing them that if they put in a little positive effort (i.e cleaning up the island), they’ll get something good in return, and unlock more of the game world in the process.
Basic financial principles
Island Savers covers a number of basic banking and savings principles:
- Your kids will learn to put their money into a savings account in order to save it up to unlock a new area
- They’ll learn that the more they save, the more interest they’ll earn from their savings
- They’ll learn the importance of pin number safety
- They’ll learn how loans work and the repercussions of needing to pay them back. They can take out small loans from the bank to move to the next area, but will need to pay back slightly more
- They’ll learn about tax. There’s a tax robot that takes one in every ten coins they earn and stores it in the tax bank
- They’ll learn that the tax that is taken from their earnings is used towards building structures that help them move about the island (bridges, recycling refills etc.)
- And the final key principle, they’ll learn not to spend money on too many luxuries through Pigby’s store. This is a store where they can buy upgrades or seeds to help them on their journey. But they can also buy fun cosmetics to customise the animals in the world, but this won’t help them progress so they’ll need to learn to moderate their spending, and learn to prioritise necessities
One final big teaching moment comes in the form of environmental awareness.
This is a nice little touch that plays quite a significant part of the game.
Even action they undertake in order to raise funds to unlock new areas of the island requires some form of environmental cleanup.
It’s a nice little touch that plays almost as pivotal a role than the financial lessons.
One final thing
One final thing to mention is the cost.
Island Savers is free…for the most part.
The first two islands are 100% free (even more attractive to parents). But if your kids want to play the other two islands, they come at a cost of £4 each. Still not a massive amount, and you’ll probably get 4-6 hours of gameplay out of the first two, free levels anyway.
Island Savers has one goal in mind: to get young people thinking about money through a fun and interactive video game.
And as someone who has experienced all manager of crap ‘edu-games’ over my 25+ years, this is definitely not one of them.
This is no crappy Flash game. This a well-made, first-person game, deserved of its place on the mainstream console stores.
If you have a kid who’s into their video games, or you think just spends too much time in front of a screen, why not get them to give this a go and see what they make of it? They might even learn a thing or two in the process. Even if they don’t, the environmental message is nice additional touch.
For more information and ideas on how you can get your children interested in their savings accounts and the wider personal finance field, take a look at Will Rainey’s blog, bluetreesavings.com>>.