Over half of high school graduates in the U.S. have little or no knowledge of banking basics, budgeting money, using credit wisely or investing their money according to The Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy. 70% of these same young adults play video games. With this in mind, Wells Fargo recently introduced the industry’s first free, multi-player, virtual reality online game called Stagecoach Island. It is designed to help educate young adults about financial literacy using entertainment as well as educational tools. A pilot program was launched in Austin, TX and San Diego, CA on Labor Day weekend and will end in mid-November.
Sylvia Reynolds, Wells Fargo’s chief marketing officer, said:
"The young adult years are a critical time for financial education because many of these young people are leaving home and becoming financially independent for the first time. Stagecoach Island is a contemporary platform where we can educate young people about one of the most important topics to their future success - their finances - in a highly interactive, comfortable and fun environment."
In the Stagecoach Island game, players select a character for an ‘island adventure.’ They can explore the virtual island consisting of parks, cafes, dance clubs, shopping, amusement parks, salons and more. They can also participate in social situations with other players such as playing games, riding jet skis, sky diving, or even dancing in a night club. Many activities are free but participants also are able to earn, spend and save virtual money. Players can earn money by visiting the Virtual Learning Lounge and answering questions about banking basics. The content of the Learning Lounge is taken from Wells Fargo’s financial literacy program, Hands on Banking.
Dr. Rodney Riegle of Illinois State University, noted:
"The popularity of online role-playing games is staggering - there are millions of people participating in role-playing games worldwide and the typical college student spends nearly as much time playing video games (10,000 hours by graduation) as they do in class. I think that young people who’ve grown up on computers and video games will embrace the Stagecoach Island experience, which is similar to a video game but actually provides a better opportunity to learn, explore and socialize in an immersive and interactive environment."
The Stagecoach Island game is part of Wells Fargo’s financial education program called We Take the Fun of Money Seriously and was developed along with Swivel Media, a marketing agency in San Francisco, CA. Young adults who attend the We Take the Fun of Money Seriously events throughout September and October will receive a Web address and a login code for the Stagecoach Island software good for 30 days of playing the game at home.
Swivel Media’s founder and creative director, Erik Hauser said:
"Education and entertainment are just beginning to merge. We’re excited to be involved with Wells Fargo’s Stagecoach Island, a project that really addresses young peoples’ need to learn in an engaging and realistic setting. We’re using the most sophisticated virtual gaming platform from Linden Lab, the creators of Second Life, to provide a highly engaging experience. We want today’s youth to learn how to manage their finances and how to handle credit - and we want them to have fun doing it."
Melissa Morey, of Wells Fargo Corporate Communications, added:
"“Wells Fargo wants all of our customers to be financially successful and Stagecoach Island is designed to help young adults become better, smarter customers. Wells Fargo helps to create a brighter financial future by providing practical and comprehensive financial education and programs that are accessible to all age groups. For example, Wells Fargo offers financial literacy workshops in schools and community groups, free money management tools on wellsfargo.com, and Hands on Banking® - a free, customized financial literacy education for children and adults."
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