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Sept. 18, 2012

MSU-developed video game aims to increase financial literacy

EAST LANSING, Mich. — A new video game designed to teach young people the ins and outs of finances has been developed by the Michigan State University Games for Entertainment and Learning Lab.

Collaborating with the MSU Federal Credit Union, the game, titled “Spartan Villa,” addresses common financial challenges, such as implementing a monthly budget and learning how credit works, by creating a realistic financial system embedded in a fun, low-pressure game world.

The game introduces players to critical financial concepts through the virtual management of college rental houses, making players responsible for expanding and maintaining their houses by effectively utilizing their finances.

Paying bills on time, allocating funds to the proper accounts and monitoring monthly spending ultimately allows players to purchase rooms to expand their houses, host social events to attract future tenants, and increase their overall credit scores.

“At MSUFCU, financial education is a top priority, and we provide many resources to help increase the financial literacy of MSU students and our local community,” said April Clobes, the credit union’s executive vice president and chief operating officer. “We were thrilled when the opportunity arose to work with the College of Communication Arts and Sciences and the GEL Lab to design an innovative, interactive way to provide financial education for students.”

The GEL Lab is an association of game research and design faculty and students at MSU, primarily in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences. The lab does externally funded research and development work and employs several graduate and undergraduate students.

MSU Federal Credit Union, the world’s largest university-based credit union, serves MSU and Oakland University faculty, staff, students, alumni association members and their families worldwide and offers a full range of personal- and business-related financial services. Founded in 1937, the credit union has 169,000 members, more than $2.25 billion in assets, and more than 475 employees.

To learn more about Spartan Villa, visit


Michigan State University has been working to advance the common good in uncommon ways for more than 150 years. One of the top research universities in the world, MSU focuses its vast resources on creating solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges, while providing life-changing opportunities to a diverse and inclusive academic community through more than 200 programs of study in 17 degree-granting colleges.