Over my internet travel time I've found a game online called SPENT. It's a good concept I admit but there are a few issues with this game that make it really off putting. The goal of this game is to live off of 1000 a month. Sounds easy right? Well this game tries to teach you it's not with ridiculously high standards and not giving you normal choices that you'd actually have in real life. Lets play then, shall we?
First, they only give you a choice of three different jobs, which you probably would only get a few options in life so okay kind of realistic. Yet apparently you don't have any sort of education, special skills, or ability to bullshit a resume to get a better job. Fine, I guess I'll take the temp job.
So instantly it tells you that you get this monthly take home pay but removes some of it cause of taxes and then tells you what your weekly pay is. Makes sense, I'm with you so far, all is good and taxes suck everyone knows that. Then it forces you to choose a healthcare plan because of the affordable care act and there are three different types of plans you can choose from OR you can opt out. So I'm going to go with the silver plan because it's not the best but it's not the cheapest. To be fair I've played this game several times and never opted out but given that this game's only intent is to slam you with the most ridiculous scenarios possible I'm assuming if you opt out they'll instantly give you cancer and you'll be forced to make meth on the side. So, silver plan it is.
Then they remove 65$ from the 1000 you get each month and by the way the goal, apparently, is to get to 0 each month. You lose the game if you go into debt or for some reason have managed to save some money because I guess if you save money you are a big loser? Whatever. Now I have to find a place to live.
Except you don't get to FIND a place to live they tell you where you will live and they also make it really far away from work. As you can see you are, for some reason, 50 miles away from work because you know that's the average of what a person commutes? Also, you just HAVE to pay this amount. In real life you'd have several different options, you'd be able to shop around, and if you did have to pay this much you'd probably find something closer than 50 miles to work at least I'm assuming that's why they imply with this graphic here cause it shows the trees and where work is.
Well I didn't really CHOSE to do this, you chose it for me. Yeah I get it, this is what the AVERAGE family does or apparently "chooses" to do? I guess I can work with that and thank you for the little factoid of information here to make me realize how difficult life is. Lets get started on the actual job then, shall we?
Oh wait, my bad, another choice you are forced into making. Sell your crap, rent a storage place or ask a friend to keep it. If you want an extra 150 then go with the yard sale option it's what I've done every time. Mostly cause in my real life I've done this a lot to make money when I needed it but really 150 for your extra stuff? You seriously aren't good enough to make better deals than that? Or what kind of crap extra stuff do you have that you can't make more than 150 dollars? Whatever it's better than nothing. Moving on...
You don't get to choose somewhere else to live it just forces you to live in that same place if you click that option cause basically you are told "Tough shit, that's life" and have to pay your landlord anyway. I'm not going to say this doesn't happen to people cause some landlords are shitty fucking people, but given that it is illegal to do this if you actually grew a spine and looked into it, there would be ways around this. Instead this game makes you a spineless asshole and talks you into believing you have choices that you really don't actually have. Now you pay the 150 and for the record I am currently at 342$.
I guess this could possibly happen but why is it YOUR fault? Yeah I get that shitty landlords are shitty but you could totally get legal help, or not pay at all because it would actually be the landlord's job to pay for this since you weren't the one who caused damage to the property. Lets go with "get legal help" which in the end just forces me to pay the 100 anyway just like I'm guessing the "fix window with plastic" would as well since this game gives you no wiggle room and assumes life is just always shitty all the time.
Oh look, suddenly I have a kid. Well I guess that makes sense since at the beginning it said "family" but oddly enough it never mentions a partner or any means of child support which would at least give you a bit more income if not double it. Unless you partner is a lazy sack of shit or you conceived without a partner? I dunno. So you are a family but a single parent family. I don't have the money for this so I'm going to ask a friend for help, obviously, because I'll just lose the game if I try to pay it.
Grandpa died. He was old and it wasn't a tragedy so I'm going to send my condolences and move on. Cause for some reason it costs 75 dollars to drive there and 350 to fly and I'm down to 87 dollars so obviously I'm not going to go. It's sad and everything but grandparents die so I'm just going to skip this expense.
When you choose the temp job it reminds you that you are a temp and you miss work on occasion which is realistic. So here I missed three days of work. Lets see what misfortune befalls me next?
YAY PAYDAY! Then instantly you have to pay bills. Since I'm a temp and I missed three days of work, payday didn't bring in enough to cover both bills so I'm going to have to either pay one or ask a friend for help. Having played before this point I know what's going to happen if I choose to only pay one bill. It's going to tell me that they shut off my gas/electric and now I have to pay a charge plus the original bill in the first place. As someone who has skipped a bill for a month to help save money, this is unrealistic. Places will let you go at least a month without paying. It's not your BEST option but it will help you in a pinch. After that point you can usually work with them on a payment plan OR you can get some sort of help from the government. Yet in this game you are an ignorant douche rag who has no concept that these options exist so you just pay the money? Way to give me a choice here. I am going to borrow money from a friend BUT when you do that, it will put an little IOU notification in the corner to remind you that you owe your friend money, better than having to immediately pay, right?
Here it decides to remind you that internet is really expensive. Considering that I sold a bunch of crap at the beginning I'm wondering how I still have a computer, but maybe the game considers that an essential. I'll just go to the library then, but that doesn't help me all it does is force another little factoid to pop up to remind me how bad people have it and how many people go without internet:
Every time this game gives you an option, it gives you a horrible consequence as well. Kind of like this one:
First of all I never chose to have a kid, secondly where is this kid's other parent? Why are they not helping to pay for this kid? I mean I can't force child support payments? I guess if you are a man playing this game, that makes sense but I'm a woman, I'd definitely have some kind of support on this kid even if it was government like WIC or some sort of food stamps. Since I need the 50 dollars, screw you kid I only got like 142 in the bank, unless you are some amazing acting prodigy I'm going to help my neighbor.
Yeah well maybe explain to your kid that you are fucking broke and 50 dollars now means them being able to eat. If your kid isn't a flaming douche bag they'll understand why you couldn't go to their crappy play. If they are an older kid, like a teen, most likely they didn't want you there anyway to embarrass them.
So now you are forced to either pay for lunch for your bratty kid or risk them starving because they don't wanna eat the free lunch. There is no option to explain to your kid that other kids are idiots and this is how they are going to get food. You just have to take money away from yourself or let your kid be a stubborn brat and starve. In my mind, if the kid is hungry enough, he/she can eat at school eventually they will learn that being teased and not going hungry is better than nothing at all.
Now your bratty kid got invited to a birthday party, the standard gift apparently is only 10 bucks so I'm going to send my kid to the party with a gift because they were already made fun of at school for being poor and getting a free lunch. I'm not a total douche, even though I'd never have a kid in the first place.
At this point you are given options to buy food, as apparently you didn't have any food before? Okay whatever. They also give you no indication over how long this food will last or whatever, and the pricing is pretty vague, I'm guessing they are working on averages. Then of course you have to remember you are buying food for yourself and this random ass kid you have so you have to spend a decent amount even though you really never get an indication on how long any of this will last. Using common sense, I buy mostly non perishable items like Ramen, peanut butter, and pasta, as well as some canned stuff. Then of course I get a few things of toilet paper cause that's pretty essential. I end up spending 56 dollars which in actuality is cheaper than what I pay right now a month for food so where is this asshole shopping? No idea.
Yet another factoid to remind me that a lot of Americans go hungry and have trouble affording food, if you are wondering where this is leading or why this is happening, don't worry, I'll get to that in a moment.
So your bratty kid that you are forced to have that also doesn't have a parent or any sort of government support is apparently a genius. Do you nurture this? Also why do supplies for this cost 50 bucks? Since my kid is "gifted" I'm going to apply for a scholarship though I'm willing to bet that doesn't work out and either since this game is about making your life as hard as possible.
By the way, it doesn't tell you this UNTIL you choose that option and once you do, you have to continue with it, when in real life you could just decide to decline instead OR just pay the 50 dollars, but this game clearly isn't about reality so now I have a job strike so my gifted kid can get a head start in life.
I got a phone call about my car that has overdue charges, you know not that the game ever even gave me the option to make a car payment. So I can pay 225 dollars or hang up, and I'm going to hang up because even after my next pay day I only have 334 dollars but it's possible to avoid collection agencies for a while. Keep in mind I still haven't paid that friend back from earlier, so there's still an IOU hanging over my head.
Another factoid to remind me that lots of people can't afford cars as if I'm not already aware that cars are very expensive to own and maintain and it's not like tons of people take buses anywhere or anything.
And now I have a pet, which they never gave me a choice in, for one, and for two I'm apparently dumb enough to have a pet when I can't even afford 50 bucks for my kid to go to school in the gifted program. Boy am I ever stupid in this game. Plus some notification came up that I have to pay 500$ on a car loan, 500 that I don't have so clearly I'm going to just ignore that like I'm still ignoring the friend that I owe money to. I ask my friend to take the pet so I don't have to pay 350 dollars because I don't have it, but honestly I don't know why I had a pet in the first place if I knew that it wasn't allowed and also I'm really fucking poor.
I guess my child is in the gifted program but a total tard at math for some reason. I can spend 50 more on this allegedly gifted kid, help them myself, or ask a friend. I suck at math but this game has no idea that's the case so I'm going to help my kid myself. I am assuming it's a younger kid so their math homework can't possibly be that hard.
Oh never mind they give you a fucking math test in the middle of this shit. If you get the wrong answer guess what happens?
Apparently I have this kid who is starring in a school play, in a gifted program, and sucks at math, or I have more than one kid? I can't imagine how all of this is possible but the game loves to remind you that life is hard so I can't be too surprised this was the result of what I chose. Nearing the end of the month here and it looks like I'm going to save money, which also forces you to lose the game for some reason since saving money is for losers.
UH OH RANDOM CHEST PAINS! CAN'T IGNORE THAT! Oh wait nothing was wrong with me anyway but LUCKILY HEALTH CARE IS CHEAP YAY!!!!! I only have to pay 25 dollars for the check up.
Bills again, different ones this time, I have the money so I pay them, but then (of course) something else happens:
Why the hell do I need to pitch in 10 dollars for a lottery when tickets are a dollar? How does that make any sense? Plus we know this game isn't going to let me win the lottery so I'm just going to ignore it, only to get a nice reminder that for many poor people this seems like a good investment. Yeah well I can just go play the lottery myself for a dollar, not sure why I'd waste 10 dollars on that shit anyway.
Next it gives me the option to smoke or not because my stress level is through the roof. I'm assuming at this point I'm not a smoker, and also I have a shit friend who tries to get me to smoke cause I'm stressed? I know if I choose the option to smoke it's going to tell me how expensive that is, so I'm going to just go with not smoking, I'm willing to bet they tell me how expensive it is anyway (which I already know cause I'm a smoker) but I'm going to choose not to add that expense to my game here.
Okay not exactly sure why I didn't do this already at the beginning of the month but I'm going to apply cause what idiot would go hungry?
How dumb are you in this game that you didn't already apply for food stamps? No seriously. That makes no sense. You also have a damn kid so you'd think that food would be your first priority right? Guess not...
Not sure what this has to do with expenses, other than the fact I'm guessing if you confront them you'll lose your job or something but let try that option.
Yeah I was right about this. So it's day 25, I have 3 outstanding bills because somewhere along the line I got a bill for dental work but I ignored it so for some reason they doubled the bill that I was going to have to pay, blah blah blah you get the point.
Now, as someone who has lived their life basically this way (and for less than 1000 a month) for many years I get that it's hard, fine. However, there are a lot more options that this game doesn't give you to make life easier. There are a lot more choices people of this income level have than what is presented here. So what's the point of this game you ask? It's to milk donations out of people.
I'm guessing this game is aimed at people who aren't living from month to month. People who make a good salary who have no idea what it's like to live like this, guilting them into thinking that OMG IT'S SO BAD FOR EVERYONE MUST GIVE MONEY NOW. I honestly won't sit here and try to tell you that living like this is fun or awesome, cause it's not. I can tell you that there are many more options that you do have in life and that the whole entire set up of this game is very flawed if you are a poor person playing it. It's admirable that someone put this together, and it probably works which is also great, but looking at this from the stand point of someone already in that situation it just seems annoying and ridiculous.
If you are stupid and for some reason have a kid and also don't know how to make good choices in order to increase your finances, life is probably like this for you. However, this isn't as cut and dry as this game wants to make it and that's what annoys me. So if people are guilted out of money to donate to a good cause, I suppose it's a win/win situation but all of these scenarios are so incredibly ridiculous all in the span of 25 days that I'm way too annoyed by it to even consider giving these people money. If this works, and like I said it probably does, good, but if you are playing from a stand point where you know what this is already like this whole thing seems incredibly far fetched. At least that's my take on it.