By William Mattox, JMI Resident Fellow
Posted February 29, 2012
Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater has some good news for football fans going through post-Super-Bowl withdrawals. TheFlorida cabinet official has teamed with the National Football League (NFL) and VISA to introduce an innovative new computer game called, “Financial Football.”The game adds a unique twist to the standard video football game – it conditions success in advancing the ball on a player’s knowledge of personal finances. Before each play in the game, a player must answer a multiple choice question about some financial topic such as how compounding interest works, what factors affect personal credit scores, and how debit cards differ from credit cards. If the player answers correctly, his team gains field position. If the player answers incorrectly, his team loses field position.While I’m not an avid video game player, I decided to try out Atwater’s game recently because I’m always looking for creative innovations in digital education. And I especially like novel approaches to teaching students about “thrift” – working hard, saving for the future, eliminating waste, and managing resources wisely. (Interestingly, CFO Atwater signed an official proclamation last month designating the week of Ben Franklin’s birthday as “Thrift Week” inFlorida.)Each time I played “Financial Football” I chose to be a different NFL team (the Bengals, the Bucs, etc.), but I always chose the Redskins as my opponent. Somehow, it seemed fitting to pit my team’s fortunes against Washington since the federal government so often undermines the thrift ethic.All in all, I foundAtwater’s game to be both enjoyable and educational. The financial questions seemed neither too easy nor too difficult (it helped that the game offered three levels – Rookie, Pro, and Hall of Fame). And the game actually seemed more realistic than some of the video games my sons play – which have far more breakaway plays for touchdowns than Financial Football. Kudos to CFO Atwater for bringing this educational computer game to theSunshineState. I hope lots of students will take advantage of this fun way to learn information they need to know.