Wednesday, October 27, 2010

56 Sage Street - a game to help youngsters get to grips with managing their money

56 Sage Street   |   free game

Barclays has a bit of a history with games. They did incredibly well with their Waterslide iPhone game - "With over 16 million engagement minutes to date and thousands of reviews, interest in the waterslide campaign has really peaked again and we are thrilled," says Paul Troy, Head of Advertising and Sponsorship, Barclaycard, UK.( Source: Pocketgamer) and the subsequent Rollercoaster game which racked up a huge 1.2 million hours of gameplay with over 10 million downloads worldwide (Source: Barclays). So it's no big surprise that it's come up with a game aimed at young people to help them manage their money better - 56 Sage Street.

Barclays says: 'The question the game asks is: ‘How does someone with nothing end up with everything?’ The answer: 56 Sage Street, an addictive free game in which players roam a vast city finding work, or places to stay, meeting new challenges and picking up contacts to help players make it to the top. If you reach 56 Sage Street you'll have proven yourself to Mr C and he'll give you his empire to run. Score!'

This is a roleplaying game and you choose your character and you are set tasks to improve yourself and your bank balance by working - and you need to choose the right kind of job, improve your chances of getting work or somewhere to live by looking after your appearance and doing good turns like walking an elderly neighbour's dog, being friendly, being good at your job etc. And this all affects not only your bank balance, but also your energy levels, appearance and reputation - all of them count so it's not just about money which is a good life lesson in itself. There are also some scams along the way to avoid.

I'm not a big gamer, online or otherwise, and I'm certainly not in the target market so I'm interested to see reviews from real players rather than reviewers like myself. Since the game links to a virtual mobile, it would be interesting to see how this would play out on a mobile - maybe the messages and tasks come through to your mobile phone? Or the game is ported to compatible devices (it would have to be devices with a decent-sized screen)? And let's not forget the Sony PSP as I know *a lot* of mobile traffic comes by way of that device. But I digress. The game is not currently available for mobile and maybe that's sensible since it's not teenagers and young people who are obsessed by the iPhone, unlike some of their older siblings.

Anyway, I've played the game. It is engaging. It does teach you the basics about managing your life and your money and it seems to be good fun. You don't have to play the whole thing at once as you can connect it to Facebook and save your status. And if you're so inclined you can share some of the medals and awards you win along the way via Twitter and Facebook. I didn't, but I can see that teens and tweens might like to do just that. Whether or not it's good fun for the teens and tweens they're trying to reach, I can't tell as I'm not in that age bracket, but the game felt pretty slick. Mild criticisms would be that it's not that easy to navigate and some of the tasks are repetitive. And the car noises definitely got on my nerves very quickly, but you can turn those off. And I think the ending needs some work too. But I won't reveal that to you in case you'd like to try it. Nevertheless, it's worth a look. I guess we'll just have to wait and see how many young people play the game, what they say about it and on top of that, choose to share how they're getting on with it with their friends. I shall be watching with interest.

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