Agents at Save One Bank will embark on a mission in 18 months to doggedly pursue greedy financial executives. They'll confront villains who are misappropriating money, pummel them in fistfights and collar them one by one. Most of the agents won't always understand the intricacies of the financial industry - they'll learn on the job.
The bank's agents will be teenagers playing an immersive, interactive video game called Save One Bank that's in development. The goal is to teach high school students about investments and the banking industry. Shon Brooks, CEO of Brooks Financial and Entertainment Consultants, a financial planning firm in Coronado, Calif., decided to create the game amid the 2008 global recession.
"They already know how to play games," he says. "This way, they are being educated at the same time as they're doing something entertaining.''
Save One Bank, which puts players through increasing levels of difficulty, is one of two games Brooks is developing for the Microsoft Xbox 360 platform. He's also working on Stock Picker, in which students will be able to compete against one another or through their schools to choose the best-performing stocks, winning virtual money and actual prizes. Brooks is working with Santa Cruz, Calif.-based Chronic Logic to develop the games, and hopes to release them by December 2013.
Brooks' passion for instilling financial savvy in teens extends from his charitable work with various school districts in the San Diego area. He teaches students about saving and investing through his program, "Turn A Penny Into Plenty," which Brooks launched in 2005. He also helps sponsor buses for school field trips to compensate for funding shortfalls. Among other initiatives, he's developed industry-related educational materials, and his firm provides financial planning advice to educators and others working for institutions that offer 403(b) retirement plans.
Brooks also advises people who attain sudden affluence, such as entertainers and sports stars, often doing double-duty as both tutor and advisor. "Most entertainers and athletes feel as though they have a grasp on their finances - that is, until something drastic happens," he observes.
Of course, managing money is not child's play, especially when investors arguably regard financial institutions more warily than they have in decades. Brooks says he's hoping to educate consumers of all ages and help them make sound choices.
Donna Mitchellis a senior editor of Financial Planning.