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Echoing Green to sponsor a virtual city

Echoing Green is awarding one of its coveted Fellowships to teacher and charter school founder Felix Brandon Lloyd for what could become a financial Game For Change to teach children financial literacy:

CentsCity applies the engaging technology of online role-playing and social networking sites like the Sims and SecondLife to develop high school students’ financial and math skills. In a virtual city, colored by landmarks such as Penny Park and Six Cents Cafe, every user has a fictional persona with an occupation, investments, buddies to chat with, and quests that teach math and financial skills. This virtual experience makes learning more dynamic and breaks beyond classroom walls. The young people served by CentsCity will become adults with the financial savvy to build their own and others’ assets.

This reminds me of Wells Fargo’s various efforts at creating a financial literacy game, “Stagecoach Island,” in Second Life and ActiveWorlds. I admire Mr. Lloyd for what he’s pursuing and hope he’s got his head around how difficult it can be to create a game — or even harder in some ways, a virtual world — that is fun, compelling, and economically accurate. After all, one of the biggest problems in virtual worlds is rampant inflation and inability to control the economy (see the ActiveWorlds link for a description of how these problems plague Stagecoach Island). Then again, too much financial accuracy might just pull the rug out from under “fun.” Good luck to him and CentsCity!

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