Texas League Planning Online Financial Education Game

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DALLAS-Move over, Farmville. The Texas Credit Union League is developing a new financial education game that it hopes will rival the popular Facebook application.

According to VP of Communications and Public Relations Linda Webb-Manon, the league will debut the game-whose name has not yet been made public-on its Facebook page in April, 2012, and it will be a central part of a year-long campaign that TCUL plans to launch on International CU Day (October 20, 2011).

Webb-Manon explained that the game-which is being developed by Facebook game developer AES Connect in California-was inspired by a project from Fort Worth's Unity CU, which had schoolchildren "build" their own credit union, while teaching them what CUs are, their history, how they serve their members and more.

"I thought that we needed to do something that can be more interactive and can be accessible in a platform that people are used to," said Webb-Manon.

The actual gameplay is still being developed, but Webb-Manon said that it would consist of ten levels, and after each level a credit union fact-such as that CUs have members, not customers; and that CUs are member-owned-will pop up on screen. In order to progress to the next level, the player must post that fact to his or her Facebook wall. At the end of each level and at the game's conclusion, users will be able to investigate credit unions near them using the same functionality as findacreditunion.com.

The Texas Credit Union Foundation is funding the game's development and marketing. Webb-Manon would not reveal the cost, but said that "it's very affordable," and credited the League's member CUs with supporting the Foundation enough that such a project was possible.

Other Aspects of Program

In addition to the game, the league's year-long campaign will offer quarterly events, including an October celebration of International CU Day and a push in January 2012 to get Texas mayors to issue proclamations in support of credit unions.

Because the game is essentially part of an awareness campaign, its effectiveness is hard to track, but Webb-Manon said that just educating the public on CUs is sufficient ROI for the league. While the league does track membership, "it's really difficult to measure what is contributing to that growth," she said, calling the game "a proactive approach to helping drive membership to credit unions."

But given a choice between Farmville, Mob Wars and other Facebook games, will consumers really go for a game about financial education? The league is confident it can make the game both fun and educational.

"It's going to be very colorful and vibrant," she said. "It has to be developed in a way that people will be intrigued. While I know that financial education is not sexy, surveys have shown that consumers are becoming much more aware of the importance of financial knowledge. ... I think that consumers are thirsty for this information, and if we can give it to them in a fun, interactive, playful way, I believe that they are going to use it. And it's an environment where they're already online, already playing games and already communicating with their friends. We're going to them in an environment they're already using."

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