FINANCIAL EDUCATION FOR EVERYONE

Financial literacy is a critical skill for young people, one which is often overlooked and rarely taught in formal settings. According to a recent study, almost nine in ten college students have not participated in a non-credit financial literacy program (​​Zeldis Research Associations: 2020).

Recognising this, Invesco QQQ worked together with PRELOADED and LEO Learning to design an experience that equips college students, student athletes and young individuals from all walks of life with lasting knowledge to help them develop healthy financial habits. 

The result is ‘How Not to Suck at Money’ (HNTSAM), a web-based game that offers players an interactive learning experience based on real-world financial situations. The narrative-led and purposeful gameplay explores a series of financial dilemmas, underpinned by an applied learning framework that drives meaningful impact.

I wish I had done this sooner. This game would have answered so many of my unsolved life questions.”

Feedback from U.S. college student

A CONSIDERED APPROACH

As the official sponsor of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), Invesco QQQ aspired to create a game-changing experience that is genuinely useful and gives something back to the college student and athlete community. 

The design phase was conducted to validate early concepts with users and build an understanding of how the game and wider programme would land with the target audience. Combining LEO’s expertise in learning design with PRELOADED’s extensive track record in educational games, the team piloted a range of concepts that could meet Invesco QQQ’s learning objectives. 

Audience testing with a large, diverse pool of U.S. college students made it clear that a character-led and narrative-driven game shape was the most successful in balancing playful game elements with content that was deeply educational.

The design phase was conducted to validate early concepts that would land with the target audience.

Invesco How Not to Suck at Money character concept art | PRELOADED

DEVELOPING A VISUALLY STRIKING WORLD

A key requirement was to create a visual world that was relatable to the student community and far removed from what you would expect from an investment firm. Complex, financial topics needed to be broken down into upbeat, digestible and enjoyable chunks. 

Renowned artist Jose Mendez, whose clients include Apple, Nike and Vans, brought a tongue-in-cheek aesthetic that enhanced the visual language of the experience. The art style encapsulates the zeitgeist of the student community, surreal elements and bold use of colour for a striking twist to the characters and the game environments.

We then transformed Jose’s drawings into dynamic 3D characters, utilising bespoke shaders to build out an immersive world inspired by real neighbourhoods. The result is a quirky and surreal 3D environment built around a high-energy visual style that presents gameplay driven by relatable characters and realistic, but humorous moments.

The high energy visual style allows for gameplay that is relatable to the student community.

How Not To Suck at Money Artwork | PRELOADED | Invesco
How Not To Suck at Money Artwork | PRELOADED | Invesco
How Not To Suck at Money Artwork | PRELOADED | Invesco
How Not To Suck at Money Artwork | PRELOADED | Invesco
How Not To Suck at Money Artwork | PRELOADED | Invesco
How Not To Suck at Money Artwork | PRELOADED | Invesco
How Not To Suck at Money Artwork | PRELOADED | Invesco

AN APPLIED LEARNING FRAMEWORK

The outcome of this process became How Not to Suck at Money, a Fin-Ed web game which equips the player with financial tips through nine unique scenarios, and most importantly, ‘5 Money Secrets’ that will be useful for life. 

Driving these learning outcomes is an applied learning framework that is built around a core loop that encourages players to consider gameplay choices as their personal financial journeys. In-game and offline rewards, including a downloadable Money Playbook and a LinkedIn certification, are earned as tangible takeaways.

HNTSAM has been rolled out as part of the wider sponsorship programme for Invesco QQQ and the NCAA, reaching students across the US. To measure its impact, extensive data-tagging allows Invesco QQQ to understand how players are using the game and how to best scale development over time, ensuring that the game continues to be a valuable resource for new generations of students. 

How Not to Suck at Money is free and available to play here.

I loved the program and enjoyed the experience. Now, I can easily separate my money without feeling like I'm missing out on the fun things in life.”

Feedback from U.S. college student
How Not to Suck at Money concept art | PRELOADED
Concept art by Jose Mendez
How Not to Suck at Money concept art | PRELOADED
Concept art by Jose Mendez
How Not to Suck at Money concept art | PRELOADED
How Not To Suck At Money environment concept art
Concept art by Jose Mendez

To build something like this doesn’t take a village; it takes a town – of wonderfully talented, passionate people. Please take a moment to learn more about How Not To Suck At Money, the official financial education program of the NCAA.”

Emily Pachuta , Chief Marketing Officer, Invesco QQQ

The 28th Annual Financial Communications Society Portfolio Awards - Judges' Choice Award

Award recognition