PlaySpent: An Engaging Game of Economics


PlaySpent is an online game that involves the player taking on the role of an unemployed, single parent who has to make it through the month on their last $1,000. The player does this by solving real-life problems and making decisions by answering simulation questions. The goal of the game is to make it through the month without going bankrupt.

Throughout the simulation, PlaySpent provides insight, such as statistics on homelessness, poverty, and unemployment. By clicking on the “Sources” button at the bottom of the screen, teachers can access all the statistics and insights on one document. This website provides an opportunity for game-based learning in the classroom while offering fuel for discussions and critical thinking about the state of unemployment, poverty and homelessness in the U.S. and the world today.

For information about rating scales, click here

Resource Overall ★ ★ ★ ★ ½
Student Response ★ ★ ★ ★ ½
Repeatability ★ ★ ★ ★ ½
Ease of Use ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Set-Up Time ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
Tech Skills ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆


Joani Share
Phoenix, Arizona

As a high school Art teacher there is little that can be done well in 20 minutes, so I used the time to play the game PlaySpent with all of my classes. I put the game up on the large screen, and using my airliner as a “clicker” I let students control the game.

My students thought about what foods would be best to purchase for a poor family that would last the longest. One student was adamant, “Everyone needs chicken.” Other students wanted the URL for the game and actually played it on their own time in the library.

Ashok Kumar Adhikari
Dhaka, BangladeshIn my mathematics class, I discussed some arithmetic word problems. At the end my discussion, I introduced PlaySpent as a practical, real world example of word problems. 

It made me realize the hardships average families go through every day. Although I got through the 30 days, my heart sank with each decision I made including sending my child to the birthday party without a present or going to work while being sick. Overall it is a game that would unveil the struggles of the real world to anyone.


  • One of the choices during the game is “Ask a Friend,” which redirects the player to Facebook – so be prepared for students trying to access Facebook during class or running into district Facebook firewalls.
  • This game is a great springboard for discussion but not a lesson on it’s own. It should be used in conjunction with a full lesson.
  • Some of the fonts and colors may be too hard to read in a large room if the activity is done as a class. Students may need to gather closer to the computer or work in smaller groups.
  • Students may try to cheat during the typing test. The text can be copied, so when the game is restarted the text can simply be pasted in the text box to pass the timed typing test.


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