How Does that Game Work?
By the time my daughter Sayer was six years old, she had learned how to play games on our old Apple computer. Once when I had brought some work home from my office on my laptop, Sayer came up and looked at my screen. “What’s the name of that game, Daddy”, she asked?
I smiled, and said, “Excel”. Sayer asked how you played it, and I showed her how to add three and three. I never told her that most people don’t consider Excel a game.
I thought of that incident when I visited a savings group in in Caimito Dominican Republic today. The group was made up of young people, led by the President, Adelarissa, aged nine. The group is in its third cycle, and to the credit of their delightful volunteer trainer, Ana Rodriguez, the group manages its own affairs to a remarkable extent. Ana now only visits them every four or five months.
Is this Savings Group serious, or is it just a game? Well, I think it’s both serious AND a game. We play games all our lives. Sometimes we manage to get ahead of the game (unless we are off our game) and if we play the game right, we might end up with the only game in town.
Children’s Savings Groups are clearly games, but as in every game, the players have to practice and learn new skills in order to succeed. In the Savings Group game, members learn savings discipline, credit management, leadership, integrity, and mutual support. Not bad skills for young people to pick up! I envy the young people in Savings Groups, because - like Sayer, who is now about to graduate from college with a degree in computer science - they are learning a game that will help them be winners for the rest of their lives.
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED MAY 2014, AND JUST AS RELEVANT NOW AS IT WAS THEN!
Ola 4 years ago ·
Paul, this is a really insightful post, thanks a lot for sharing. It is well known that the habits we develop when we are young shape us for life. Do you think this is something that could gain serious traction in the donor community, or are the results too far downstream to accurately measure?
Smita Donthamsetty 4 years ago ·
Paul-One note about the words that people use here in the Dominican Republic....To say that you are going to be a part of a ROSCA, you would say that you "juega san" or literally "play a ROSCA." When I first started training savings groups here, some of them would use this same language to talk about being a part of their savings group. I love that idea as it's always more fun to think of something you play.
Paul Rippey 4 years ago ·
Heh heh! Thanks Smita - I love that.
I think Kim and I both feel like Savings Revolution is a sort of game. We have considered various ways to monetize the site, from getting grants to selling ads, and always end up at, "No, then it wouldn't be fun".
Kim Wilson 4 years ago ·
Paul - This is truly good. But, maybe we can monetize the site and make it fun. I was pretty good at monopoly at one point in my life. The question is - who should pay? Not of course the savings group members or the practitioners who enable them (both, our revolutionaries) but we might find another stakeholder who enjoys the game as much as we do.
I really liked Smita's response. Let's play!
Assalama 4 years ago ·
Thanks for sharing this Paul. Inspiring and yes the best way to learn is when learning is combined with fun.